Thursday, December 30, 2010

Hey, 2010.... don't let the door hit you.....

It is time to say a hearty "SO LONG" to 2010. So many of my friends had a truly horrific 2010, so I think we're all ready to say farewell to it, and look forward in great hope and anticipation to 2011.

Speaking of farewells, this was a year that I saw too many of my dear ones pass. The last of my grandmother's siblings, my great-aunt Clovie, died at the end of March, having made it to 91 years old. She lived a wonderful full life, and so while we were sad, we also looked back with great fondness. In October, I lost Karen, a friend from college, WAY too soon. On the same day of her passing, Uncle Clyde, my aunt's husband of 50+ years, suffered a debilitating stroke, and he passed away about 6 weeks later. Then in late November, Mrs. Stewart, the mom of an old friend, passed very unexpectedly. Her daughter and I have known each other for 25 years now, and Mrs. Stewart was never anything short of warm and welcoming to me, every time I saw her.

There have been just as many stories of people battling all sorts of illnesses. I swore that I have never heard the word cancer as much as I seem to have this past year. And I just found out today that another old friend is battling the disease herself. Dear God, when will this scourge ever end?

My best friend's husband battled his condition all year long, it seemed. Three surgeries, several hospitalizations, and now an additional surgery scheduled in February at the Cleveland Clinic. Another dear friend had foot surgery recently and is still recuperating from that. My friend's daughter who has Dravet Syndrome had a couple of scary episodes - the most recent and scariest one happening just before Christmas.

Then good ol' heart disease, the evil specter that haunts my mother's family, made its presence known in a strange way, reminding us that he lurks in the shadows. In June, Mom became unusually ill, and we found out she had pericardial effusion (a/k/a "fluid around the heart"). The treatment prescribed was ... okay, don't get me started. I begged, pleaded, threatened, bribed, whatever it took to have her go for a second opinion. And in 2 visits, they did more for her than had happened in the weeks prior. A regular stress test became out of the question because her heart was in such poor condition. The chemically-induced test revealed that she'd had a silent heart attack. Her parents died of massive heart attacks. I refuse to stand by and watch that evil specter just take my mother without a fight. If she can't fight him off herself, then by God, she has a daughter who'll gladly take on the SOB and punch him in the nads a time or two.

But it wasn't an all bad year, either. There were little successes and joys along the way. My brother got a job. My friends are adopting a little boy, and they just came home with him right before Christmas. Another friend may be getting her first novel published. My friends Stoney & Jennifer got married, and I got to meet two wonderful families -- so I have a whole new slew of people to love! My goddaughter became a teenager (gasp!) who succumbed sadly to Biebermania (oh child, if you think he's sexy, then an intervention is in order).

And I got a 2nd set of soul-sisters to love. My first set is my d'ranged friends (spelling intentional), and my second set are my Chirp girls. They have both been my lifelines and I could not have gotten through 2010 without them. Period. End of story.

Here's to 2011.... to breathing, to living and moving and having our being, to joy over sadness, to conquering our fears and pains!!

Oh, and I wanna learn to ski this year. Yep. I do.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Best. Thanksgiving. Event. EVER.....

Live from the Pinedale Shopping Mall......

Happy Thanksgiving - WKRP Turkey Drop - kewego
http://www.sharkhost.com Happy Thanksgiving from Sharkhost.com! This is a blast from the past, WKRP in Cincinnati Famous Turkey Drop. Sharkhost does not own any copyright to this material. Web host, web design, marketing and promotion.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

This was too good not to pass on....

The other day, one of my long-time friends had this as his Facebook status:

"Here's a twist on the traditional Thanksgiving custom of giving thanks for all our blessings -- have we made such a difference in someone else's life that they want to give thanks for us?"

That's not food for thought, that's a whole 24-7 all-you-can-eat buffet.

Whenever the Great Reckoning Day is, whether at my death or in some great final moment for us all, I hope that in this life, there is one person for whom I have made a difference and who will witness to it for me. I truly hope that it is because I gave them a kind word, a gentle nudge, or even a bad action of mine that caused a positive reaction in their life. Or perhaps, they saw something in me that gave them pause and because of that, they did a kindness to someone else.

So this Thanksgiving, I am so glad for these people who have made a huge difference in my life, so much so that I want to give thanks for them:

* My parents and brother -- well, duh, because!!
* For my extended family -- aunts & uncles, cousins, new additions, whomever you are. You have shaped my life even more than I realized. For my cousins especially, I am cherishing the time I get to know you more as adults. Fate made us family; love is making us friends.
* My best friend and her family -- you truly are the sister I never had, and it doesn't seem as if we've only known each other for 23 years; it really feels as if it's been all my life, anyway. You & The Mister have loved me and welcomed me as family. You have trusted me as godmother to your children. We have shared our deepest sorrows and highest joys. And for being strong enough to share your faith with me, I am truly eternally grateful. You took a chance on me as a friend and fellow sojourner. For that, my heart is without words, just tears of gratitude.
* Tal & Sera -- for reaching out to me, a total stranger, not knowing anything other than my name, my website, and a few factoids that I shared. If you didn't know already, when I read that first e-mail from y'all, I sat here crying like a baby (speaking of tears). You didn't know how battered my self-worth was at that point in my life ..... all that mattered was "Hey, this girl sounds like she might be a nice friend." For all the joys you have brought into my life, and the friendships we share, thank you!!
* Dr. E and Debbie C. -- for believing in me when I wasn't sure I believed in myself. You both said I could do it, and so... I did.
* My CRHP sisters -- because you listened to my story, separated the wheat from the chaff, and loved me anyway.
* My "sisters of the pasture" -- you are there for me in ways you probably cannot even begin to fathom. In short, I love you all more than Paula Deen loves butter.
* To a couple of people whom I shall simply call "The G" and "Voldy" .... I even thank you. Even though at the time, you had hurt me in more ways than I thought a person could hurt, it is because of that pain that I am stronger and better. In short, I became everything I didn't know I could be. I can hope that you never intended for things to have been so difficult, but out of that difficulty was born the person I was meant to be anyway. Every birth has pain .... so oddly enough, thank you for being the midwives for the new and improved me.

So this week, count your blessings, and pray that you are blessing and grace to others.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Very strange thing this weekend....

I had gotten an e-mail about becoming part of a lymphedema network registry to stay on top of the latest news, hear opportunities for research, etc. I went to their site, signed up, and am looking forward to hearing more about their work.

The timing was especially strange and yet very timely. For the first time that I can remember since my treatment started, I am having some difficulty. It's not something that's affecting my daily life, but it's something I haven't before experienced. I feel as though I am really retaining fluid, and I especially feel it in my left foot and toes. My left leg is the one that was worse than my right leg, and so is probably a little more sensitive to the changes.

From my viewpoint, it doesn't look as if I'm retaining fluid, at least not to a great degree. But the foot feels tight, the legs feel heavier than usual, and even my fingers and hands feel puffy. Earlier this year, I did have about a week where my hands felt the puffiness worse than any other place, but I'd also not been watching my sodium (and had apparently overindulged). The only thing I can think of is that earlier in the week, my foot had hurt as I was doing some calf lifts. So I attributed the soreness and the aches to that. Now, I don't know........ might it have something to do with the lymphatic system instead?

But rather than focus on the why's, I need to focus on what I can do........ keep exercising, watch my sodium intake, breathe deeply, and move forward.

***

BY THE WAY.......... if you are in Upstate SC, the 2nd meeting of Upstate Monarchs is this Tuesday, November 9 at 5:30 PM at Earth Fare in Greenville (Pelham Road). Upstate Monarchs is a new lymphedema support group, helping us learn to live with lymphedema. If you or someone you know has lymphedema, please come join us!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I am coming to believe...

that kitchen tools and gadgets are the invention of someone with a lot of stock in Johnson & Johnson. Because apparently, I can't work a simple vegetable peeler without slicing at least one finger open at any given point. My left thumb was the victim last night as I was peeling a butternut squash.

Sure, I could buy the squash already pre-cut. But there is something ..... I don't know what the correct word would be. When I chop and dice and peel and cut and all that myself, I feel even more connected to the whole food prep process. I think, "this is the way that generations of women before me helped prepare food...." and I feel more deeply connected to them. I feel more deeply connected to the growing process -- to the farmers who grew the item and sent it on to the store, or brought it to the farmer's market, and to the food itself. I know it sounds insane, but there's an energy to the whole preparation process, and there is a beauty to the rhythm in chop-chop-chop. To do all this is almost a spiritual exercise. It takes time and effort and expending yourself for something else to come about.

This is why I love cooking, in spite of the nicks, bumps, bruises, and other kitchen mishaps. There is nothing quite as satisfying as the ability to give people nourishment for their bodies and perhaps at the same time for their spirits and souls -- and for yourself as well. Can't buy that at a drive-through!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

I had this great post

all worked up about Dwayne Jarrett's 2nd DWI and how I'm tired of entitlements... not just in athletes and celebrities, but in society.

But then, around 9:15 PM, that all changed. I found out that another frat brother of mine has passed away -- also very unexpectedly and WAY too young. She had recently had surgery but seemed to be bouncing back very well. I don't know all the details, but I can tell you that my brain refuses to wrap around the idea of losing another one so soon.

She was only weeks older than me. She'd just turned 41; I will in 19 more days. People our age are not supposed to die. What the flip is going on with my generation? She leaves behind a husband and two teenagers (daughter & son). That's two friends I've had pass away, leaving teens behind. This is wrong, wrong, wrong, on more levels than I can begin to think.

So here's my thought for the night: hug and kiss the ones you love. Tell them how much they mean to you. Tell them you love them and why, if for no other reason than, "I just do." Make the time to do so. If you had only five minutes left, you surely wouldn't spend it blogging or working on a spreadsheet or doing anything else other than telling people how much they meant to you -- so why wait? Do it now.

Karen, we will meet again. Until then, you & Carolyn behave up there. God's got both hands full anyway -- HA!!!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

It's the most wonderful time of the year....

Not Christmas. GAK! Deliver me, O Lord ........ no, friends, the most wonderful time of the year is now: Autumn.

Autumn -- the world in all its radiant splendor, with fire-drenched color and crisp weather. The smell of the Northern Hemisphere moving toward dormition. The tastes of crisp fresh apples and hearty squashes, and the warmth of hearth and home. Harvest has come, let us enjoy what we have and be thankful for the year that it took to bring this moment to fruition.

Autumn -- when manly men suit up in tight spandex with bulging pads underneath and crush each other on a field of green over a piece of pigskin (and if that's not a reason to rejoice in this world, then nothing is). These same men will play their games until the chill of winter .... and then move it all to a subtropical locale to play their post-season bowls (college) or championship game (Super Bowl) because, hey football is a moneymaker, and that's what it's all about, right? But I digress...... The love of the game.

Autumn has always been my favorite season: spring makes me sneeze, summer is great but always too hot, winter... meh. But autumn. Maybe it's the introvert in me -- the cook who loves to prepare healthy yet hearty (and heart-felt) meals for those she loves. Or the girl who thinks a true treat is being next to a fire and enjoying the crisp air around her too.

I wait all year for these sweet months of autumn.......

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Some random Tuesday thoughts

* I had a busy weekend, preparing for and being part of the team that presented the Christ Renews His Parish women's weekend. What a joy and delight it was! I am tired and yet strangely energized. There's so much I could say and not enough time to write it all down. To the ladies at the Joyful Hearts table, my deepest gratitude for all that you taught me over the weekend. To my sisters on the team, mille grazie isn't enough to thank you for your presence in my life.

* It was so sad to learn last night of Kenny McKinley's passing at age 23. He was a Gamecock who was playing for the Denver Broncos. The police's initial findings are consistent with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. I really hope that it wasn't the case, but if it is, then it's doubly sad. If you ever feel you have no reason to go on, please for God's sake, reach out to someone. Call 1-800-SUICIDE, and you'll reach the Kristin Brooks Hope Center. They can help. And my thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who loved, cared for, and played with or against Kenny McKinley and will miss him so very deeply.

* Do you ever have a "mulling" day? I am so far today.... Not really into talking, just mulling over things in my head. But that's okay.... I'm going to have a "thoughtful Tuesday" instead.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Invisible Illness Week

This is National "Invisible Illnesses" Week -- a way to educate/advocate for all of us who do deal with an illness, just not an obvious or visible one. I actually have two, since I also deal with migraines; however, mine are so minimal by comparison that I would rather let those who deal with them on a daily basis speak on that topic. But this is the 24-7-365 one for me.......

30 THINGS ABOUT MY INVISIBLE ILLNESS YOU MAY NOT KNOW
  1. The illness I live with is: Primary Lymphedema (I shall abbreviate as PLE). It is a condition in which the lymphatic system does not circulate properly and swelling can occur at the site of damage. Primary is congenital and most likely hereditary. It can manifest itself in early childhood, after puberty, or after age 35. Secondary lymphedema is caused by some trauma or removal of lymph nodes (example: cancer surgery). In so many women, they develope SLE in the arms or sides because of mastectomy. In my own particular case, it was probably present all along, is definitely hereditary (have a cousin with the same condition, just recently diagnosed as well in her late 60s!), and began to manifest itself sometime between ages 14 and 19. I can't pinpoint an exact time.
  2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: 2008.
  3. But I had symptoms since: Who knows? First manifest around 1985-ish?
  4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: needing support garments almost 24/7 (not in the shower or pool).
  5. Most people assume: that it's more of a cosmetic condition than a medical one.
  6. The hardest part about mornings is: needing the extra time to unravel bandages, re-roll, remove additional compression aids, AND put on the compression wear after showering. I've managed to get the compression hose on in about 5 minutes, but when I get a new pair, it's a few extra minutes for that.....
  7. My favorite medical TV show is: does "Forensic Files" count?
  8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: well, nothing that directly affects my condition, but my MP3 player.
  9. The hardest part about nights are: summer nights, when I'm wearing tubiform stockings, compression aids, AND 2-3 sets of bandages per leg. SWELTER!!!
  10. Each day I take __ pills & vitamins. Okay, about 10 vitamin/supplements, and 1-2 pills each day (not related to lymphedema; no pills for that!)
  11. Regarding alternative treatments I: am already utilizing them.... well, I don't consider MLD (manual lymphatic drainage) an alternative treatment, but some physicians do, I'm sure.....
  12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: I don't know which I would choose. There are times "invisible" is better, but you get so weary of explaining, "yes, I have an illness; no, it's not some quacked-up quasi-illness.... do you want to see information on it, because I can give you more than you'd ever want.
  13. Regarding working and career: I still get to work, but I have PT every two weeks, and so I work it as my lunch hour .... and if there's a difference, I make it up by staying late or coming in early.....
  14. People would be surprised to know: lymphedema isn't just a "cosmetic" condition but if untreated, it can lead to serious issues.
  15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: this is 24/7/365 for the rest of my life. In my case, it's congenital and so I have to manage it, the same way that anyone with a chronic condition has to manage theirs.
  16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: nothing. I didn't realize I had this condition until I was 38 and so I just always DID with it anyway.
  17. The commercials about my illness: What commercials? Totally not on the commercial radar .... and thank God because there's not a drug out there to be advertised for it.... so none of the "what a wonder drug, here are the 40 million ways it could kill you" ads.
  18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: Going support-hoseless.... I do in the shower, and a couple of times when I have had a migraine develop, I've gone to bed unwrapped or unhosed. And I won't be able to do hot tubs, saunas, steamrooms, etc. again. But otherwise......
  19. It was really hard to have to give up: my razor. Yep, I'm not allowed to use a single-blade, double-blade, quatro-blade, or any blade. Electric razors, those are fine. But if I nick the skin and infection sets in, the protein-rich lymphatic fluid is nothing but a breeding haven for bacteria..... :( Le sigh. So I don't get quite that silky smoooooooooooooth closeness. Hmm, wonder if lasering my legs would be okay! And Nair/Neet STINK (literally).
  20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: hmm.... cooking? Nothing really. It's a condition but not necessarily life-limiting. It's as limiting as I allow it to be. If I don't take care of myself and do the right thing, then yeah, it's limiting.....
  21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: go hoseless!! :D
  22. My illness has taught me: more about the way the human body works. I had so little knowledge (still do, I think) about the body's many, varied, interesting detox/elimination processes.
  23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: well, about the condition: nothing. Not that I'm not ready to advocate, but most people don't ask much more than "so what do you have to go to PT for?" You do a short explanation, and it's like, "Oh. Wow. Didn't know there was such a thing...." and that's as far as it gets.
  24. BUT I love it when people: ASK QUESTIONS!
  25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: my thought is that I have this condition, it does not have me.
  26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: do not hesitate to learn about the condition, and DO NOT miss an MLD treatment, and FOLLOW THEIR INSTRUCTIONS. Yes, it's a colossal pain in the @$$ to bandage every night or use a pump (if you have fibrotic skin), but it beats bout after bout of cellulitis all to hell. I had ONE bout, extremely mild, no open wound -- and it STILL took 3 weeks of antibiotics to get it under control.
  27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: well, for me, it was the fact that after 20-ish years of untreated and undiagnosed PLE, my skin had not become fibrotic, or otherwise horridly disfigured. I consider myself TREMENDOUSLY lucky in that respect. Even my physical therapist was VERY surprised. In some ways, it was almost like it had just recently started happening, instead of having 20 years or so of this condition.......
  28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: Just listening to me.
  29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: I believe in advocating and educating. The more you know......
  30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: happy -- and that I have made a little difference in helping people learn and understand

Do you have an "invisible illness"???? Click http://invisibleillnessweek.com/ to learn about Invisible Illness Week, and consider participating in "the note" project!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

It Is Now Official....

As of today, September 9, 2010, I am an "Old Fart" (R) : I ordered my first set of bifocals.

I've worn glasses or contacts since I was 15. Twenty-six years of wearing single-vision lenses has been good to me. But it's only been in the last few weeks that I've noticed that I don't need to sit quite as closely to the TV, computer screen.... or to have the hymnal or choir pieces quite so close either.

Welcome to your 40s, kiddo!!!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Slipping the surly bonds of earth....

For the first time in a while, I had to fly on business. Most of the time, I don't travel for work, or at least no travel beyond driving distance. After one particular leg of this flight, I was swearing the same thing: "If I can't drive there, I won't be there."

Chicago beckoned, so onto the big bird I went. Every song about flying or traveling was going through my head -- by the time we landed in Chicago, I was humming Arlo Guthrie's "Coming into Los Angeles" (wasn't about to sing the words, heck no!). G-vegas to the ATL was a piece of cake: 30 minute flight. ATL to O'Hare ... it was all good until the final descent/landing. I mean, at one point in the flight, I was thinking, "You know, I ought to ask the attendants about their careers. I mean, if something ever happened, it would be really cool to do this." By the time I was leaving the plane, I felt like saying, "You're a braver soul than I, Gunga Din!"

I don't know what happened: the descent angle, the time of day, the stress and trying to find my travel party (coming in from various airports)... but I got sick. UGH!!!!! I made it into the terminal, called the lead in our party and got on the bus to the rental car facility where we were to meet. Turns out, I landed at Terminal 2, they were at Terminal 3 and ended up on the bus at the same time. We got going but between O'Hare and our hotel, she had to pull over for me.

How embarrassing. Here I am, a grown woman, with a nice job, terrific friends and family, and a good life (on the whole), and I'm frickin' crippled by motion sickness and migraines (yeah, I think one of those might have been beginning to build as well). I know it's not anything I can control, necessarily, but I mean really. So I missed dinner that night while nursing my aching head, neck, shoulders, and stomach.

However, I must say that I got to nurse myself in grand style!!! Highly recommended: Hilton Garden Inn's beds. Yes, you can buy them online, too. However, no way am I going to spend that much on myself right now. But lush and lux they are: oh my! I think I sank into the bed and barely moved. Divine, just plain divine.

The next morning, we took a tour of a sister company, and one of their specialty labs that does work across the company. It was truly amazing to see everything they do and how it's put to use in the real world. After the tour, it was on to the Corporate offices, and into 2 days of meetings (well, one afternoon, one morning, and then a short meeting for our team). But on the drive up, I couldn't help but chuckle. I saw a turnoff for Harvey, IL -- and I wanted to go soooo badly, just to see the shell of the Dixie Square Mall. One day, my plan is to get back to Chicago and make a tour of all the locations from The Blues Brothers. But I digress.

For dinner that night, we went to The Glen Town Center -- it's a shopping/living/dining area (apartments/condos over the stores or restaurants). It's kind of like downtown Greenville combined with Shoppes at Greenridge. Pretty neat idea, I must admit. Dinner was at The Yardhouse -- I had a salad and the spicy tuna roll, which was not sushi-like at all. To be fair, the waitress did tell me that it wasn't a typical sushi roll. However, may I suggest that they call it a tuna cake instead? Because that's pretty much what it was. Tasty, to be certain: tuna over the spicy sauce over an edamame layer. I could only eat about half; it was good, but the salad filled me up, as well as our non-cocktail hour offerings.

After our team meeting on Tuesday, my local counterpart and I had to head back to the airport. Our Group HR Director called a ride for us from a company with whom they have an agreement. The limo driver showed earlier than we expected (or told them to arrive) and at the loading dock ... oops! But he got us to the airport in plenty of time.

One small complaint to the fine people of O'Hare International: for all the air traffic you encounter, you might want to talk to the TSA about a grant for more security stations! The security lines were way longer than necessary, and when I finally got to my gate, they were boarding already! I wasn't late-late, but surely later than I like to be. It would have been nice to have time to grab dinner from somewhere, even if it was "Sammies 2 Go" or something. Thank goodness I had a few minutes to spare at Hartsfield. By the way, a huge tip-of-the-cap to the pilots for the ORD-ATL leg on a fabulous job for both takeoff and landing (hardly even noticed them!).

So what's next on the agenda? Putting all these timetables from the meetings into action this week!! :)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Doing it right....

One of the things we discussed a few weeks ago in our Weight Watchers meeting was never counting the things we do right, but harping on and beating ourselves up over the ONE thing (or two) that we did wrong. I'm as guilty as anyone -- trust me on that!

Over the last few weeks, I have had this odd sense ... the feeling that I can't do anything right some days. We all have moments like that, or even a couple of days gone haywire that do that to us, but the recurring feeling is not me. I don't know why, and I surely don't like the sensation. So I am making an extra effort to focus on the good things I do, in all aspects of my life......

So here's my list of recent successes:
* I take healthy foods for my meals and snacks.
* I work out and was very proud of what I did this weekend.
* I have really prayed for people and their needs, and know that they are doing the same for me.
* I have worked to reconnect with those who mean a lot to me.
* I have advocated for my mother's health, and feel as if we're back on track to getting the answers we need.

I'm especially proud of the last one: Mother is as stubborn as her daughter, and if I'd had to take her bound and gagged, kicking and screaming, I would have. Worth every bit of effort to get her there. And now we have a path to go on. I don't know all the answers, but we're getting there.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I have an alter ego

Her name is Suzy Homemaker.

Suzy is a fiend in the kitchen. When Suzy takes over, watch out world. So what did Suzy come up with over the last few days?

1. Two appetizers for a Weight Watchers meeting, straight out of two of their cookbooks. The first is a granola-bar-like cookie. The other is a tartlet (phyllo shells) filled with caramelized onion, chopped Canadian bacon and some shredded reduced-fat Swiss. I thought for sure that at an early morning meeting more people would enjoy the cookie-ish dish. Flat wrong: I made 36 bars (um, Suzy made them, sorry!), and brought home about 24 or so. I made 40 tartlets and brought home... 10 or 12? Either way, they were good!

2. A coffee-braised beef roast with caramelized onions .... one word: a prolonged mmmmmmmm. Can't wait to take some into work tomorrow for lunch. Slurp.

3. My .... er, Suzy's .... famous mustard-chicken barbeque (pulled chicken). Remember, it is the South and barbecue is a NOUN, not a verb!!! "We're having a barbecue" in about 40 states translates down here to "We're cooking out/grilling (out)." This is done in the slow cooker with 3 ingredients. Suzy & I (ha ha) put 4 cups of the mix in the freezer for future use, as well as a cup & a half in the fridge for use this week. Mmmmm.

Suzy is about to work her magic on some ground chicken breast to create some burgers. Gotta think how I want them.... one patty each with different seasonings, or four just alike? I mean, one as teriyaki or another as chipotle lime and yet another with wasabi..... gotta think on this.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I am still alive and around....

Just been really busy and stressed and trying to be the duck.... you know, calm on the surface and paddling like hell underneath.

July has been strange, in many ways. Mom's health is still up-and-down, and my own health concerns have taken a backseat. My best friend's husband has been in the hospital most of the month so far, with difficulties from a recent surgery cropping up again. Work has been busy but at least not crazy-insanely so.

I can't think of much else to say right now. But I will write more after my day trip tomorrow to Alabama.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

SO proud of them!

Congratulations to the University of South Carolina baseball team for winning the NCAA College World Series. I am not a USC alumna, but I love Gamecock sports. And I SOOOOOO enjoyed watching them claw their way to this championship.

They will forever be the champs, as well as the last team to win the CWS at Rosenblatt Stadium.

WONDERFUL job, Coach Tanner! FANTASTIC work, players! You make us all thrilled!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Best question I've heard in ages

So I was sitting in church this morning, conversing with a soprano in our choir, and we were talking about voting on Tuesday. I mentioned that I normally LOVE the campaign season but this particular one has done nothing but disgust me. Jane said, "Oh good, so answer this for me...... if everyone is such a conservative, exactly WHAT are we conserving?"

I had a brief moment of silence, and the cynic in me replied before I could shut myself up: "Conserving the idea that what's mine is mine, screw you."

But I'm right.

For all the talk of family values and moral fiber........ REALLY? When did selfishness and greed and isolationism and ignorance and "go back to your own kind" become a good thing? For all their talk of being good Christian people, and their photo ops outside of churches and their stories of how their deep faith and strong family saw them through..... no one has the testicular/ovarian fortitude to say, "None of what we stand for politically has any connection to the values I nod my head in assent to on Sundays." These things are NOT Gospel values, and I for one would love to see the candidates stop talking about how their values are good for SC. Values like that are not good for my state, or its people.

I'm all for bringing business to our state. God knows, we need it, but we're whoring ourselves out in tax breaks to get them here. And in doing so, we're mortgaging our public educational system (which God knows needs all the money it can get), and a million other projects that all need tax money to survive. "Uh Chief? Sorry, we're $18 million short on revenue, but hey we created 180 jobs!" Sure. 180 minimum-wage jobs or part-time jobs, or a combination of the two. We might as well just set up a jar on the nightstand and put a shingle on the statehouse steps advertising our going rates.

I'm all for reforming the immigration system, but I'm definitely NOT in favor of the "you ain't from around here, are ya boy?" attitude that is way too pervasive (and not just in my home state). It is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. No one is going to be entirely happy with whatever consensus and compromise is reached but ignoring it hasn't worked either.

So again...... just what are we conserving?

***

Speaking of conservative politicians, I don't agree with her politically, but I will say that I like the way Nikki Haley has handled the accusations and allegations slung her way. And you will never convince me that the Good Ol' Boy system here in good ol' South Cack isn't behind it because they're threatened by her: a strong woman, from a different cultural background, who wasn't brought up on a Protestant church bench from infancy up. And SHE of all people has actually had a very good response -- basically saying, "None of it's true, and I'm ignoring it and moving on." When South Carolina's latest embarrassing politician opened his idiot mouth (yeah, Jake Knotts, I mean you), and then said, "What's wrong, she can't take a joke?" he sounded more like a playground bully .... threatened by a girl who could kick his butt in short order and move on to the next one. Like I said, she and I will never see eye-to-eye on the issues, but I give her full props for not giving him the time of day ... almost could see her rolling her eyes and saying, "Well, one more idiot down, thousands of others to go."

Monday, May 31, 2010

For Memorial Day

This song just flat gets me, every single time. I cannot help but mist up listening to the lyrics and thinking of all those who make the ultimate sacrifice for my freedoms.

"No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." -- John 15:13

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Funny things happened last night

I am slack. I know. You don't need to remind me of that! So what's going on in my world? Work, as always; hey, gotta pay the bills! WW training and work and meetings and sharing my story. Church meetings and workshops and events galore. Starting personal training and trying to get my body back on track.

Last night I had to stop by Wally on the way home. I had a coupon for a great snack and the only place I've found it is a Supercenter. I stopped at the one nearest work, got out my insulated bag and a couple of other bags for my goodies, and got to the checkout line. The girl was putting everything she could in the insulated bag, and then had just a couple of items for the other. I was glad that it only took 2 of the 3 bags I brought in -- and she looked at me and said, "That makes you happy?" (like, "Good Lord, girl, what kind of happy pills are YOU on?")

Well, yeah. It's a Friday night, I got mostly everything I needed to get me through the next week for food, and I remembered to bring my bags with me to the store (something I'm trying to get better about doing). It might not have been winning the lottery, but it was a good feeling. So YEAH, I was happy.

Then later on last night, I wore out my blender......... and sadly, not due to mixing margaritas. I wore it out with smoothies. Yes, please laugh about it because I have! Ol' Faithful could mix the liquids just fine, but when I put ice or solids into the blender, not so much anymore. I bought a much nicer replacement today, and it's got an "ice crusher" mode! WAHOO!!!! Even better? Bought it on closeout, saw it in another store later on today at TWICE the price I paid for it! SCHUH-WEEEEEEEEEEET!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Long time no blog....

At least not here. I have a couple of others (as you can see to the left), but lately, I've been woefully neglectful of all of them -- especially my original baby here.

April has been interesting and eventful. Easter came and went and it was just beautiful! I went on retreat with some ladies from church, and it was fantastic. It didn't last long enough, but does it ever? I joke about being a conspiracy theorist (not really, but....); however, I almost would have sworn some cosmic conspiracy was going on. After such a wonderful weekend, this past week has had more stress than you'd believe: car trouble (and being dependent on others for transportation for 2 days) ....... a family member's possible diagnosis of (ahem) "immaculate degeneration" -- to which I thought, "gee, how many family members have had this, and you're surprised you're next?" And, I just purely love the malapropism: immaculate degeneration is far more interesting than macular degeneration, whether age-related, hereditary or a little of both.... (SNORT!)

But you know -- life is good. Life is so good. I'm loved, I love others, I have a job, I have a vision, and while I can whine about minor annoyances, I truly have nothing to complain about! And that, my friends, is worth celebrating!!!!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Joy-driving: road-geekery of another kind!

Back when gas was a beautiful, lovely, blissful memory at $1.50 or less per gallon, I enjoyed nothing more on a Sunday afternoon than to get in my car and just go. I'd take the roads either previously untraveled, or partially traveled, and just follow them out as long as I could with the time I had, or until I found a road that I knew connected somewhere.......

Today, I was scheduled for a hair appointment about an hour from the house. The hairdresser is an old high school friend, and I am in need of some highlights, so I thought I'd give someone I knew a little of my business. We got some mixed signals, and she had a family emergency anyway, so we're going to reschedule. But in the meantime, it was a great opportunity to just go "joy-driving"!

What is "joy-driving" you may ask? It's when you hop in the car with nowhere in particular to be, go, do, no set time frame to complete anything in........ basically, just finding joy in being and seeing. So from the town where I was supposed to go, I ended up taking the road by my grandparents' graves (and had I not had a more "pressing concern" I'd have stopped for a while). I went into the next little town over, which I rarely visit, but it was nice to go there. I could have traveled four or five different ways to get home at that point, but I stuck to the main road. Once I got back to the next largest town in that area, I decided to go home yet another way that I rarely travel...... well, that, and I also had a bright idea to look for a bakery outlet store. I have become quite enamored of the new sandwich thins, and thought it'd be a great way to pick some up for a good price. I found a store, picked up the bread, and then stopped for lunch. (For thoughts on lunch, see my Weighty Matters blog).

From lunch, I turned onto a road I'd been meaning to travel for quite some time. Amazingly enough, it took me not far from where I would have come out anyway, had I stuck just to the main road..... actually, it carved off a good bit of it. And now, I have another connecting road, if I ever find myself out joy-driving, and can't figure where I am........

Such a gorgeous day and a lot of fun!!!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter everyone!!!

For many years, I was part of an e-mail list for people involved in initiation ministry ... and now and again, one of the list members would occasionally say, "I often wonder just what we are initiating them into." This was usually said when HMC would do something just unexplainable or dumb or head-shaking. And I admit, I still think that on occasion ..... and especially after this week in the church.

Last night, I attended the Easter Vigil and every year, it never fails to move me. I do still occasionally ponder T's question: "Just what are we initiating them into?" And my answer would be: a flawed body that needs your brokenness to help make it whole. Broken as we are, we're still the ones responsible for carrying out Christ's work in the world. Insane as the institution can be, it is still the people who make the Church.

There's a great song by Michael Card that I had forgotten about until I played it on Good Friday. As many times as I've listened to the song, it was like rediscovering a great truth when I heard it again.......

The marks of death that God chose never to erase
The wounds of love's eternal marks
When the kingdom comes with its perfected sons
He will be known by the scars

It is because of the scars that we will be perfected. The love that caused the scars is what we celebrate in the Triduum. You cannot separate Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter. It is one event, so interwoven that you cannot place more importance to any segment over the others. Similar to Easter and Christmas. Without Christmas, there is no Easter .... but without Easter, why would you even need to celebrate Christmas?

Jesus Christ our light is risen; sound the trumpet of salvation! Surrexit Christus, alleluia; cantate Domino, alleluia!

He is risen: he is risen indeed!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

And may we stay......

I was mulling this over at lunch today and planned to post about it. Mea culpa.

I cantored the 12:30 Mass today and was once again reminded that the kids in college are actually young enough to be my kids. Even the seniors -- gasp! I don't think of myself as old enough to be anyone's mother. I know, the mirror tells me differently, as do my license and birth certificate. My aching muscles were certainly letting me know it this morning. Somehow, in my mind, I still think of myself and my friends as forever young. And perhaps in a way we are.

We can't stop thinking of each other in those terms, no matter how hard we try. Even the ones who have been friends for years on end and seen each other through marriages, divorces, children, teens, all the important firsts...... somehow, we're all still a certain age to each other. For my college friends, we're all still around 25. We're out of college and just starting life and we're all still fresh-faced and fresh-brained. The mirror says 40, the mind says 27, and some days my spirit says 12.

And I think we keep each other young -- in the best way -- by doing that. We don't see the wrinkles, the crow's feet, the saggies, the burdens, or anything else. We're all still wonderfully young to each other.

Bob had it right: May we stay forever young!

I haven't forgotten

.... to make good on my travelogue for the Memphis trip. I have just been swamped, and it's not going to be any better until after Easter.

I'm still alive. Still kickin'. Hanging in, hanging out, and hanging on, to quote Tanya Tucker. (Boy, there's a phrase you don't hear or read every day...)

In the meantime I am working on a posting for both M&M and Weighty Matters (a cross-posting) that I hope you'll enjoy!

UPDATE: Here's the link to the PDF file of the newest playlist (along with comments - like you didn't expect those?)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What a weekend!!

Had a great time in Memphis! Will definitely blog more later about it, but I am so very happy for Stoney & Jennifer! They are a wonderful couple, and I wish them every blessing in their life together!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Things I need to change....

1. The number of hours in a day from 24 to 30, ON THE CONDITION that the other 6 hours must be used for me and only me, and at my discretion to do whatever I please......

2. My amount of sleep. I'm not getting enough and haven't for a while. I'm going to have to learn to manage my energies far better than I'm doing now. I've long been hard-wired to not fall asleep before 11:00, but if it takes Unisom by the truckload to get me on a better sleep schedule, I'll just have to renew my Sam's membership.

3. Letting the minor annoyances get to me. I don't know why they do but they do. Frankly, I'm growing tired of the "no wire hangers" sort of thing in myself.

I have a lot of things to work on....... where to start?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Snow. Snow. Snow.

For the fourth or fifth time this winter, we are having a "winter event"...... only this time, it actually did happen to us. Oh, we've had mild freezing rain and a dusting of snow the other times. And naturally there are always the predictions that never pan out for us (but 30 minutes north of us and oh yeah.....).

This time, it was for real. We got beautiful wet snow at the office, closed up a little early, and I drove home in a pretty snowfall, light and twinkling. I've driven in a couple of other snow events here in my adult life: both were quick and furious with huge flakes and driving winds. The difference between the two is an angry uncle-by-marriage who's stuck watching a gaggle of kids when he'd rather be at a monster truck rally with his buddies ..... and a sweet grandmother who just pulled your favorite cookies right out of the oven, so happy to see you that she can't wait to hug you!

Anyway, it cancelled some of my morning events, but not my afternoon ones. It will be in the upper 30s by noon, so no problems driving. By the time the events are done, it will not be dark yet, so it shouldn't be much trouble driving home.

And it made me think of where I was a year ago....... a beautiful mountain cabin nestled in the Monongahela National Forest of West Virginia. Oh my. It was a butt-cold but gorgeous weekend. Matter of fact, Fasnacht is tonight in Helvetia, and I wish them a beautiful day and pleasant evening (especially for the feast at The Hutte; don't forget your reservations!). We were just outside the Dolly Sods wilderness area, not too far from the Canaan Valley resort area..... I cannot begin to tell you just how beautiful that area is.

So I looked up the weather report for the Canaan Valley area this morning: as of right now, 19.2 degrees F; chances of snow: 90% today, 40% tomorrow, 70% Monday, 30% on Tuesday and Wednesday...... Oh, le sigh. Massive le sigh. I could use a snowbound weekend in a cabin in the middle of nowhere ...........

Again, my friends. Since not this year, perhaps next. But we will do this again. Somehow, someway.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Really? Really?

So I was perusing Facebook, as I am usually wont to do when I have a few moments. And I noticed one of the lovely ads off to the side: "For Classy Cougars Only!"

One of my cardinal rules in life has been this: things (or persons) which are self-described "classy" generally aren't. I want to say I got that idea from Lewis Grizzard and his description of a personals ad: "Classy SWF age 35-39, enjoys blah blah blah...." and how usually the woman who actually showed up was quite frequently the antithesis of class. I think of those glittery iron-on t-shirts from the 70s: a butterfly with "Classy Lady" detailed below it -- and usually worn by women with heavily bleached hair, eyes with enough liner and mascara to make Rocky Raccoon say, "Tone it down, sister!", and too often with a cig hanging out of their mouth with enough ash on it to rival Mt. St. Helen's. And usually yelling something to someone they knew or screaming at the kids that their daddy was gonna whoop their aaaaaaaassssssssssss (or for those who don't always drag out their words, that's "ass"). Or it also brings to mind a restaurant like "Klassy Kafe" ... usually, a great hangout for the Whiskey Tango crowd. I guess that's where I get the connotation.

And the whole cougar thing.... really? How did those of us who are single and of a certain age get saddled with this predatory moniker? Just because we have a little more confidence and self-awareness at this time in our lives doesn't automatically mean we are out there to pounce on the first willing 25-year-old guy who comes along. When I think "cougars," I think of my college mascot: a perfectly noble creature! When the real cougar goes on the hunt, it is for survival, not because he feels he can and is therefore entitled to. If it were a Far Side world, we would already have the National Large Feline Anti-Defamation League already working overtime on this......

Classy Cougar. If I ever describe myself this way, you'll know I've hit my head and given myself a bad case of brain damage. Feel free to pull a Cher moment: "SMACK! Snap out of it!" I will thank you for it. I promise.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

I Love Rock 'n' Roll.....

but lately, I have been completely enthralled with AOL Radio's "Jazz Vocalists" to listen to while at work.

I think that when it comes to singing, if I were to ever attempt a career in vocal music at this late stage of the game, it would be jazz -- probably Great American Songbook type of things. I purely love when a Billie Holiday tune comes across..... oh my. And I have been floored -- in fact, beautifully pleasantly surprised -- by Renee Fleming.... yes, the operatic soprano has a mezzo voice for jazz that is phenomenal. I've discovered the music of Blossom Dearie other than what I grew up hearing on Schoolhouse Rock.... she's the one who sang about us unpacking our adjectives. Her version of "Someone To Watch Over Me" is absolutely endearing.

I catch myself walking around at work humming tunes and most of them are the jazz standards. Or I'll be singing something in the car and it's got a jazz feel to it. There's not a lot in life that I regret -- I don't like the idea of looking back and thinking "what if?" But these are the times I think, "Yeah, I should have been a vocal performance major."

As much as I completely love rock and pop, I couldn't have sung it. I don't have the grit in the voice. I probably could do indie/Americana stuff.... but it's not me. I do sing church music.... in church. (Just for the record -- attention haters and naysayers: choosing to keep my church music in church has ZERO to do with proving to ANYONE the depth of my love for Christ. God already knows. Now....)

But jazz/GAS stuff.... yeah, I could do that.

Le sigh.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I'm still alive, and well....

But I am here to tell you this: there is a special level of hell, one that Dante never imagined, for those who create malware, spyware, viruses, Trojan horses and all other manner of electronic evil. But at least, thank you to the guardian angels and patron saints of electronica, we're finally mostly rid of the crap.

More to come.........

Monday, January 11, 2010

My challenge.....

I haven't done much work on my New Year's Revolution -- at least in terms of actual written plans to increase my positivity. It's been a pretty busy couple of weeks at work and home, and I'm just getting into the swing of the post-holiday routine.

I think one of the things that might help me is to pick back up some hobbies that I had let slide by: pleasure reading, needlework, even writing or working on my short stories/novellas. I miss those things. So I have a stack of books waiting on me...... new needlework patterns were ordered and just arrived today ...... and the novellas/SS's are still on my computer, waiting patiently for my return.

I also plan to do is take more time for myself by reclaiming my Saturdays and Sunday afternoons for whatever *I* choose to do. Saturdays have become a day to do all the errands I can't get to during the week. That's not the way to spend every Saturday. Sundays, I'm usually so pooped I fall asleep in the recliner. Not a way to spend a Sunday either.

Getting myself together -- not a bad plan for 2010!

Friday, January 01, 2010

HAPPY 2010 EVERYONE!!!

2009 wasn't a bad year altogether, but I am so excited for what the new year will bring!

In a shameless moment of self-promotion, check out my "Revolutions, Not Resolutions" post over on Weighty Matters (my blog about weight, health, etc.). It kind of explains how I feel about resolutions from a health perspective .... and let's face it, at least 75% of most resolutions are all about losing weight, stopping smoking, getting on the workout bandwagon, etc. Anyway, my revolution plan for 2010 is to get a better attitude. While I try to lean to the positive, optimistic side, I see some negative tendencies I have and I don't like. I don't think they're the real me, and this year I need to improve myself in that area.

I guess you could call me a realistic optimist. I hope for the best, plan for the worst, and expect the same-old from people, events, and situations. I don't really want to be a sunshine-n-roses kind of person. That level of happy-happy-joy-joy just makes me itchy. I'm old enough to know that sometimes, life is gonna smack you around, that people are not always whom they present themselves to be, and that things just happen. But I also don't want to be a gloomy Gus or even a misanthrope (though there are times I would relish it, just for a few moments). I have had times when I've been surrounded by negative energy, and I hated those feelings. I felt absolutely horrific and I don't ever want to be in that place again either. So I like being balanced -- but I prefer to be more in the sunshine-n-roses end of the curve than the Eeyore side of the bell. I want to believe that people can surprise me with goodness. I want to focus more on the good things in life and less on those annoying little details that just pull you down.

So my goal for this weekend is to map out a 12-month plan. Tangible ways I can develop a better internal me. The last few years have been (and continue to be) about making the outer me better..... it's time to make the inner me stronger and better too. Oh, not that the external changes haven't helped with that -- Lord knows, I finally grew a backbone during all that time -- but it's time to focus on the internal things a little more closely.

Here's to 2010: better, stronger, faster!!! Oh, and friends? Ever forward!!!!