Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Weird, Wacky, Weather

This past weekend we traveled from the high desert of California to the low desert of California. For those of you that don’t live in this area, you may not realize that such a thing exists as “low” and “high” deserts. You figure a desert is a desert, right?


The difference in the two areas, weather wise, is the difference in night and day, particularly in the winter time.

We live in the high desert and when we left home the weather was very chilly, but sunny and nice. We anticipated more sunny and nice when we got to the low desert, only it would be warm. It was. No surprises.

The adventure began when we started our trip home. As we walked out of our Palm Springs hotel on the morning of departure, we noticed a pretty brisk wind blowing as we loaded the car. We didn’t pay too much attention, just loaded up and headed for home.

As we headed out into the desert to make the trek over to the Interstate, the wind began to get stronger. It pretty quickly escalated from brisk to strong and then to very strong and then to ohmigod, the wind is going to turn the car over. The wind was absolutely howling in it’s ferocity, but what was really scary is that it started picking up the sand and blowing it.

We were, quite suddenly, in close to blackout conditions. The sand was blowing so hard and the car was rocking back and forth and I was having a “heart attack” for the scraping, scouring noise the sand made as it attacked the finish and paint on my car was making my blood run cold. We were in a full fledged sand storm and I was scared to death it was going to ruin my car. My car is relatively new and quite beautiful (at least to my eyes) and I was terrified that it’s lovely appearance was being ruined. I was envisioning scoured off paint and pitted windows as we drove along. I didn’t stop for I could see just enough to make out the lines in the road and I was praying that I could drive out of the horrible tornado-like conditions.

We drove through this for 19 miles and finally made it to the freeway onramp, got on the freeway and started towards home. The wind lessened perceptibly for every mile we drove further away from Palm Springs. I was starting to breathe easier for I could see the hood and the paint looked okay and the windows weren’t pitted, so I figured we had survived.

Then it started raining. And I don’t mean just little raindrops pitty patting on the window, I mean it started POURING. It was like somebody was pouring piss out of a boot and it was all getting dumped on my windshield. (it washed the sand off!) It was raining so hard I could barely see out the front window. At least the wind wasn’t howling anymore, just lots and lots of wetness. I kept driving for once again, I could see the lines, so I just drove very slow and kept hoping it would end. And then it did. Suddenly we drove into sunshine and it was lovely. It was like we drove through a curtain and suddenly, there was the sunshine. It was rather strange but I was delighted to see the sun and I figured our weather adventure was over.

Until it started snowing. And I don’t mean just itty, bitty little fluffy flakes, I mean big fat, gnarly, blizzard sized flakes. The wind started again and it was blowing so hard, the snowflakes were falling sideways. Once again the car started rocking and we were approaching whiteout conditions. (blackout-whiteout-this seemed somehow familiar). Need I say I just kept driving? It snowed for a little while and then it stopped very suddenly. No warning, no slowing down, somebody up there just threw a switch and BAM! no more snow. It was eerie.

I figured, as the sun came out again, that at this point, we had surely had our share of adventuresome weather. You would think so, wouldn’t you? I thought so too.

And then it started hailing. Fortunately for me and my car’s surface these were sleet like, pea size hail stones. I’ve seen golf ball sized ones in my life and I didn’t want my poor car to have dents! Was I saved from the scouring sand only to be dented by hailstones? Apparently not. The hail was very brief and stopped. We drove back into sunshine.

I should tell you that the trip from low desert to high desert involves some elevation changes and we were climbing from the floor of the desert at sea level up to almost 4500 feet as we headed for home.

As we drove along in the sunshine, I was sorta holding my breath. Okay, what’s next? Earthquake? Hurricane? Flying fishes? I didn’t know what to expect. Fortunately for my car’s surface and my nerves, the adventurous weather was over.

Unfortunately for the poor spouse, when I get nervous, I fart. It’s an involuntary thing, I can’t help it and, usually, nobody knows. Unless they are, you know…..smelly. These were. I was paying (spouse was paying) for the lovely shrimp dinner of the night before. Shrimp farts are unusually bad. Something about the whole fish thing. Spouse desperately wanted to put the window down but she had a choice of which substance she would prefer in her face? Fart Smell? Sand? Rain? Snow? Hail? She opted to turn on the inside air freshener, circulator thingy. However, circulating smelly farts does not help. One must open a window or a vent and let them out. In the sunny patches, she did just that. God love her. What she puts up with.

When we arrived home, safe and sound, I changed my underwear and then, all was right with the world again.

And you think you have crazy Spring weather.

P.S. We heard on the news that night that the howling wind in the Palm Springs area had torn the roof off some homes and caused quite a lot of damage. It really was bad!!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Mastercard Moment

Full tank of gas for the weekend: $50.00

Eating out for three days: $150.00

Golf in Palm Springs on a 78 degree Southern California day: Priceless

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Pet Peeves (Also Known as Things That Bug Me)

1. When other drivers don’t turn on their headlights at dusk. Is it a contest to see how dark it can get before they turn them on?

2. Telemarketers. I am on “The List” but they still call.

3. The cost of a gallon of gasoline. I remember when gas cost CENTS….not dollars…..just cents. I am so old.

4. People who don’t/won’t use a turn signal. Am I supposed to read your mind?

5. SPAM in general and penis enlargement spam in particular. I am a female for Christ sake. Where do these idiots get my name?

6. Everything that I REALLY, REALLY love to eat has a million zillion calories in it. My taste buds just love rich. What can I say? (I wanted biscuits for breakfast and the damn things are 4 points apiece! How is that fair?)

7. People that park right on the line and essentially hog two parking spaces in a very crowded parking lot.

8. TV commercials that go on and on and on and on and on……I counted 23 in a row the other night during a station break.

9. Golfers who diddle and dawdle and take a 10 count on one hole when the course is backed up and people are behind them. Take 6 shots, then pick up the ball and move on!

10. Women who pee on the toilet seat and/or floor in a public restroom. Do you suppose they do this at home? I don’t think so.

I could go on and on. Obviously, lots of things irritate me.

However, at this moment we are packing the car and getting ready to head for Palm Springs. We’re having a weekend of fun in the sun – golf, gambling at the Indian casino and time with friends. The Spouse desperately needs some time off and some R & R. She works WAY too hard at a horribly demanding job.Therefore, off we go.

I don’t know if I’ll post this weekend or not. I’ll have my laptop with me and if the Spouse is snoring a lot, I might. Time will tell.

See ya………………..

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Bank

Today I went to the bank. This is a fairly unusual occurrence since I have perfected the art of electronic banking. ATMs, direct deposit checks, online bill paying and the like. I have not seen a real live banker in quite a long while. If today’s experience is indicative of what is happening in “real live” banking nowadays, I hope to continue not seeing real live bankers for a long time to come.

When I walked in I could see there was a very long line. I was immediately annoyed as I had just come from the gym and my legs were hurting and I most assuredly did not feel like standing in line. I was also in somewhat of a hurry, but I had no choice. This was an in-person type of transaction, so I got in line. Just for the hell of it, I counted how many people were in line. I was number 22 and people were pouring in behind me. The line began to turn and snake around the bank.

In this exceptionally busy bank on a Saturday morning, there were two tellers. There were ten possible windows to serve the customers, but only two of them were open. What brainiac decides that having only two tellers working is enough on what I presume might be the busiest day of the week? (My Spouse says I am impatient and get annoyed way too easily. I vehemently deny it. However, since I am currently feeling annoyed and impatient and I have just barely walked in the door, maybe she’s right.)

At one of the tellers is a group of customers (a family?) and they are having what must be the longest banking transaction in history. It just goes on and on and on. Meanwhile, the one poor teller is handling the line, which is growing by the minute.

But wait! Someone comes out of the back and opens a third teller window. There is a murmur of approval throughout the line as we all anticipate getting out a little faster. However, as #3 teller opens her window, #2 teller closes his and departs. We still have two tellers. My annoyance grows. Yes, I think maybe Spouse is right. I am very impatient and I would like to confront the group that is totally hogging the one teller and tell them to hurry the hell up because we’re all sick of waiting. However, I stand in line, I keep my mouth shut and I shuffle forward, slowly, oh so slowly.

Finally, at long last, it is my turn. I approach the teller, conduct my business and I’m done in a couple of minutes. As I turn to leave the bank, I note that the teller hog has finished, both tellers are working to the max and the line is still snaking around the bank.

ATTENTION BANK MANAGERS: Get a clue. Two tellers on a busy Saturday morning is not enough. Your customers are unhappy.

My spouse just walked in the door with a chocolate pie. Now I’m really unhappy. Remember WW??

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Soap Box

I am not, by nature, a political person. I don’t campaign for politicians, I don’t attend fund raisers, I don’t knock on people’s doors to “get out the vote” and I don’t attend pep rallies for any politicians. It’s not that I don’t like our political system, for I most assuredly do. I think the good old USA has the best way of life in the world and because I think that, I try to stay informed and I vote. That’s my big contribution to political life in our country…..I vote. That’s it. Politics, and all the hoopla that goes with it, is just not my thing. I can’t stand the lying, the hypocrisy, the dishonesty, the bullshit and all the crap that is involved in the political process. Hence, I avoid it.

Just because I don’t participate, however, certainly doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions. You know the old saying about opinions: they’re like assholes, everybody’s got one.

Well, since I have my own “private” soapbox, in the form of this blog, today I feel compelled to share an opinion that is, undoubtedly, highly controversial and definitely of a political nature. Let me preface these comments by telling you some things about me that you may not know. I am the granddaughter of a career Navy man, I am the daughter of a career Marine Officer and I am the spouse of a retired career Army Officer.

Therefore, don’t anybody dare have the balls to say to me that I don’t support our troops. NOBODY could support our troops more than I do. Because I support them, because I care about them, because I “love” them, I can’t stand to see them being so senselessly slaughtered in this insane war in Iraq.

Why the hell are we there? Is GW out of his mind to even think of sending more troops over there?? Good Lord, the British have finally come to their senses and they are getting out. Why can’t Bush admit he made a mistake and GET US OUT OF THERE!

We are fighting in a senseless war in a country where we are not wanted, where we are, in fact, despised, and we are fighting against people that have no morals, no conscience and absolutely no sense of the value of human life. They are slaughtering the beautiful, wonderful, incredibly brave and valiant young men and women of our country and it is just breaking my heart.

Every night on our local news they have a segment that highlights one of our local men or women who have lost their life in Iraq. Invariably it is some young 18,19 or 20 year old “child” who has barely begun their life. It is a tragedy beyond comprehension that our children are being butchered by this mindlessly violent and horrible enemy.

How can ANYBODY, anywhere, at any time, for any reason, cut off somebody’s head? How can they find joy in setting off bombs and blowing up innocent people? How can they be thrilled and pleased to explode chemicals and ruin children’s eyes and lungs? How can it be fun to throw an explosive into a tank and know that there are people inside burning up? Explain to me the pleasure of setting off a bomb in a plaza full of innocent people….What is wrong with these people??

And the bigger question……what is wrong with our government that it is willing to put our children in harm’s way like this? It’s not our job to provide Iraq with a decent leader and a democratic country. It’s THEIR country and we should let them deal with THEIR problems. THIS is our country. We don’t belong in the Middle East and we should get out NOW..NOW..NOW..NOW.

Bring our troops home!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Who Am I? Only The Bracelet Knows.

I went to see the doctor the other day and, as a result of his request, I went over to the hospital next door to have a number of tests done. Nothing serious, but I hadn’t had blood work, or other things, done in a good while and he said I was overdue. So I went.

I hate going into the hospital as an “outpatient”. I’m not their “patient” at all. I’m just using their Lab and X-ray department to get some stuff done BECAUSE MY DOCTOR TOLD ME TO. However, they don’t see it that way.

Can I just walk back to the Lab, hand them the doctor’s orders, get some blood drawn and move on? Of course not. First, I have to go to the Admitting Department. I’m not being admitted so don’t ask me why I have to go there. However, no one will even talk to me until I’ve BEEN TO ADMITTING.

Okay. I go to Admitting.

I stand in line at a window in the Admitting Department. The woman at the front of the line is hugely pregnant and she and the person behind the counter are having a long, loud, extensive conversation about whether the correct paperwork is on file so the pregnant lady can be admitted. Apparently it is not. The paper pusher makes numerous phone calls, the pregnant lady waits, the man in front of me waits, I wait. We are all waiting for the privilege of talking to the paper pusher. She is maybe 19 years old and she will be the one to grant me permission to get my blood work, et al, done.

I am a college professor teaching students about the business end of medicine. The irony is not lost on me.

Finally the pregnant lady is rolled away in a wheelchair, the man in front of me has received permission to get his x-ray and it is my turn.

Paper Pusher (PP):
“Can I help you?”

Me: “Yes, I’m here to get some blood work, an x-ray and a pulmonary function test.”

PP: “You have to have an appointment to get a PFT.”

Me: “Yes, I know. I have an appointment. It’s at 11:45. (It is now 10:00 AM) I came early so I could get the blood work and x-ray done first. I’m fasting so I need to get the blood work done soon. I’m getting a terrible headache.”

PP: “Have you been here before?”

Me: “Yes.”

PP: “Okay, fill these out.” (She hands me a clipboard on which there is a small mountain of papers)

Me: “I’ve been here before. Nothing has changed. Same address, same phone, same job, same insurance.”

PP: “Sorry, this paperwork has to be filled out before you can be processed.”

I spend the next 30 minutes filling out the paperwork. I return the clipboard to her and am told to sit down, I will be called. My head is throbbing.

I am called into the Admitting Department. Apparently I was talking to the receptionist. Silly me, I thought I was talking to the Admitting Department.

Paper Pusher #2 bids me sit down across from her.

PP2: (Looking at computer screen) “Do you still live at …….? Is your phone number still…….? Do you still work at…………?Is your insurance still……..?”

Me: “Yes, Yes, Yes and Yes.” She never looks at the paperwork I spent 30 minutes filling out.

Okay, she says perkily, “let’s get you back to x-ray and get started”.

I ask about doing the blood work first since I’m starving and my head is throbbing. "Not possible," she says.

She takes me to the X-ray Department. Upon arrival, I am told to sit in the waiting room and she walks over and gives the paperwork to the people behind the counter. Apparently I could not be trusted to carry the paperwork to the X-ray Department and give it to them myself.

I wait.

And I wait.

And I wait.

Finally at 11:00 AM they call me in. The first thing the x-ray tech does is look at my wrist. My empty wrist. “Where’s your I.D. bracelet?” she says. “What I.D. bracelet?” I say. Back to Admitting I go.

PP2: “Oh, ha-ha, I’m so sorry” she laughs. “I forgot your I.D. bracelet. You have to wear one or you just can’t get anything done. It’s a safety measure to make sure the right patient gets the right service.”

I am not smiling.

I return to x-ray and show my bracelet. I don’t have to wait again. It’s a good thing. I would hate to have to kill someone on this fine sunny day. Did I mention I hadn’t eaten and my head was killing me?

This is for a simple chest x-ray. Doing the x-ray takes about 5 minutes. We’re done.

I head to the Lab in order to get the blood drawn. When I arrive at where I KNOW the lab should be, the door is closed, locked and has a sign that says “Authorized Personnel Only”. My head is hurting so bad that my eyeballs may soon pop out. I have no idea where to go to get the blood drawn. I ask anyone who looks like they might know something. Finally I am sent to “Short Stay”.

It is a long ways away from where I am. It is a huge hospital. As I am walking the 6 miles to the Short Stay area, my knees start hurting. No surprise. No meds in my system and lots of walking. Not a good combination. My headache has reached a new level of throbbing.

I am not happy.

I arrive in Short Stay. There is a nurse’s station and beds. This does not look like a place to have your blood drawn. Off to my right I see a person sitting in an office. I stick my head in the office and ask, “where do I go to get my blood drawn?”

She points vaguely off to her left and says “Go sit over there, I’ll call the Lab.” I see no place to sit and I tell her so in my not-so-nice, don’t fuck with me voice. (my head hurts, my knees hurt, I am starving – I am not happy.) Since I am standing there watching her, she calls the Lab and then gets up and leads me to where I should sit and wait. I swear, if I had just wandered off and found a place to sit, the Lab would never have been called. It is 11:25.

At 11:35, I get up, walk back over to the lady who called the Lab and ask if she has any idea when they might be coming. She has no idea and clearly could care less. I tell her about my 11:45 appointment for the PFT and it is very clear, as I am talking, that she sincerely wishes I would shut up and leave her alone.

I shut up and leave her alone.

At 11:40 I leave the Short Stay area and head for the Pulmonary Function Testing Lab. Problem? I have no idea where it is.

I walk.

I ask.

I walk.

I ask.

I finally find the right place. The door is locked.

Nobody is there.

I have now passed the headache stage and I am a bit giddy and lightheaded from not eating. I also feel like biting anyone who has the misfortune to cross me.

Suddenly, as I’m standing at the locked door wondering what to do, a PFT tech walks up and greets me.

She is nice.

She is warm.

She is friendly.

I almost hug her in my relief at finding somebody who is treating me decently. I decide not to bite her.

We go inside. She checks my wrist band and my paperwork. I am who I am supposed to be. She puts me in a booth. I huff, I puff, I blow, I prove that my lungs still work, albeit, not perfectly. This takes a long time, almost an hour.

It is now approaching 1:00 PM. I still have not had any blood drawn and I have still not eaten.

I return to Short Stay and talk to “The Charm School Director” again. The lab people never came. She calls the Lab again. I sit down to wait again.

As I’m waiting, a bright spot! A lady and her therapy dog come by. It’s a Chocolate Lab! We talk, we visit, I pet the sweet furry girl and the time passes. I think of doing therapy work with my girls. However, Lucy, for all her sweet, gentle lovability with us, does not particularly care for strangers. Not a good trait in a potential therapy dog. Meggie is still a baby but she loves everybody. Maybe Meggie…….hmmmmmmm..the mental wheels are turning. I can’t help but think what a wonderful therapy dog sweet Bess would have been.

Finally, the blood tech shows up. She is chatty and pleasant. It’s not her fault. She says she just got the call and came right away. She has no idea what happened earlier. She checks my wrist band. I am who I say I am. She draws the blood, band-aids my arm and we’re done.

At 2:00 PM I crawl out the front door of the hospital. With shaking hands, I unlock my car and desperately grab for the tiny cooler that I was smart enough to bring. I eat my apple. I eat my WW bar. I drink my diet coke. I am so fucking good and “on program” that it’s disgusting. I want a huge hamburger, I want French fries, I want a shake. I munch more apple and head for home.

Our wonderful healthcare system. I’m just so thrilled to be a part of it.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Did you ever think about how important your sense of smell is? It’s one of those things we take for granted, yet, it is such an important part of our everyday life.

As I write this, bacon is frying and the smell is wafting all over the house. Since I’m not eating the bacon, the smell is annoying but, at the same time that I’m annoyed, my mouth is watering. I love bacon.

The smell of peanut butter.

The smell of fresh bread baking. Don’t you love/hate it when they are baking bread at the supermarket?

The heavenly smell of brownies or apple pie in the oven.

The crisp citrusy smell of an orange when you start to peel it.

The smell of a fresh, hot pizza right out of the oven.

Homemade spaghetti bubbling on the stove.

(Do we see a food pattern here?......hmmmmm…I don’t think we need to wonder why I’m on Weight Watchers)

The sweet smell of clean hair when you kiss the top of a loved ones head.

The smell of a puppy. Grown dogs smell different. For some inexplicable reason, Bessie never lost her puppy smell. I would wrap my arms around her chunky brown body and bury my face in her fur and it was like smelling an 8 week old pup. (bear in mind that my dogs swim every day, several times a day, so the idea of “doggy smell” is not a factor in my house – chlorine smell is more likely)

The smell of your Mom when you hug her.

The smell of your spouse when you hug him/her. We all have such distinctive smells that say who we are. I don’t mean the soap smell or deodorant smell or good smell that we all (hopefully) have lingering around us. I mean our “person smell”. Go smell somebody before they get all “prettied up”. Each of us have a distinctive smell. Our dogs know it. I wonder why we’re not better at smelling each other’s scent?

The fresh clean smell of dryer sheets and freshly washed laundry.

The sexy, enticing smell of a woman’s perfume.

The smell of home.

The smell of your favorite shower gel or lotion. For me, it’s tangerine spice.

The smell of fresh cut grass or hay on a summer day.

The smell of fragrant flowers….a rose? a carnation? an orchid? All different, all heavenly.

The smell of the ocean – that wonderful, fragrant, oceany, salty sea smell – there’s nothing like it when you’ve been landlocked too long.

And then of course, just to be fair, there’s the lovely smell of:

A papermill (never smelled one?…you’ve never really tested your bad smeller until you drive through a town where a papermill is located. How do the residents stand it???????)

The dog pen when’ve you’ve let the chore wait just a tad too long.


Bad breath.

The man or woman in line in front of you who desperately needs a bath and a good deodorant.

The smoke from a forest fire.

Cigar smoke (Oh man, I hate this one!!!)

Cigarette smoke. (not near as bad as a cigar, but still bad)

A stinky pit after a hard day of sweaty work……pick your pit, whatever works for you.

A “loaded” baby diaper.

The bathroom after your spouse spends 30 minutes in there and then forgets to use the room deodorizer.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. We all take our nose and our wonderful sense of smell for granted.

Stop It!!!

Go smell something!!!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Reasons Why:

My spouse/partner/mate frequently drives me nuts. There are lots of reasons for this, but every time I think I can’t stand it another minute and I will have to run off to Outer Mongolia, then I remember these things:

1. She loves our dogs as much as, or more than I do. That’s not an easy thing to do. I’m a nut about the animals.

2. She frequently takes the dogs out to play and throws their logs for them and spends time with them. They need their playtime.

3. She doesn’t give me a hard time because I fart, burp, occasionally slobber, pick my nose (ewwwww!….gross) and frequently have unbelievably bad bed head syndrome.

4. She never gives me a hard time when I fall asleep in front of the TV or take a nap in my chair.

5. I have control of the remote. She will only take it out of my sleeping, limp hand.

6. She thinks I’m the best cook in the world. (I’m not)

7. She doesn’t care that I just “pull up the covers” and rarely really make the bed. She says there are lots more important things for me to do than be a domestic goddess.

8. According to her, I’m incapable of spending too much money; I’m a genius with money; I handle money so well; and I’m a financial wizard. (I don’t and I’m not)

9. She doesn’t care that I don’t make much money being a teacher. She says she’s proud of me for doing what I do.

10. She thinks my body is perfect no matter what weight I am. (She’s clearly blind)

11. Nobody understands about Bess like she does. She adored her too.

12. She loves the smell of Vicks and I am a “Vicks Queen”.

13. She doesn’t drink MY Diet Coke. She’s a coffee girl and I hate coffee. How compatible can you get?

14. She fills the toilet paper holder thingy without me asking her to.

15. She’s understanding about my eBay boxes of bathing suits and the mountains of “stuff” cluttering the entire house.

16. She doesn’t complain about me letting the laundry pile up so badly. (I should qualify that I refuse to allow her to do laundry because she’s terrible at it. The art of stain removal, pocket checking and color coordinated loads is simply over her head.)

17. She buys good presents because she knows what I like and she doesn’t care what it costs. She’s very creative with gift giving and is able to surprise me. That’s not easy for I’m very intuitive.

18. She never misses a holiday opportunity with a gift or flowers or candy. (Of course she was well trained, but I appreciate the fact that the training worked so well.)

19. No matter how much shopping I do or how many things I opt to buy, she never complains that I spend too much money.

20. She understands if I don’t feel like cooking dinner and says “no problem”, she will fend for herself.

21. No matter how long I’m gone, she never questions me, asks where I’ve been or wants to know what I’ve been doing. She trusts me implicitly. (and rightly so - I’m as faithful as an old hound dog.)

22. She loves cruising. No better vacation to be had.

23. She says we NEED a cleaning lady because both of us surely have better things to do than scrub a toilet. So, we have one.

24. She always loves the clothes I buy for her. She always thinks they are perfect. She says I have the best taste. (I don’t but as long as she thinks I do, it works)

25. She always goes outside to smoke because I have requested it. She gives me no grief about it even when it’s snowing or pouring rain or roasting hot. She just goes out.

26. No matter what I do, what I say, what I wear, how I look, how lazy I am or how bitchy I can be, she loves me.

I think I’ll keep her around and I think I’ll not go to Outer Mongolia. I’m a lucky woman.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The eBay Queen

As you may or may not know, I am an eBay seller. I have been doing this for several years and it’s a nice source of additional income for my family. However, over these last few months, I have let my business go dormant. I haven’t done a “lick at a snake” since August of this past year. The interesting part of this fact is that I don’t know why.

I’ve been analyzing it, while mentally pushing myself to get busy, get moving, start selling, etc, etc. I keep giving myself pep talks and myself keeps ignoring me. I have a garage full of inventory, enough shipping supplies to run the post office of a small country and plenty of time to work. So what’s wrong?

Clearly this lethargy and “stuck in the mud” persona is not who I am. I am a busy, energetic woman with lots of things on my plate, yet my eBay business is at a standstill. Why?

The only thing I can come up with is depression. I don’t feel horribly depressed, just sad and resigned. I do notice that it seems that every day that goes by, I feel a bit better than the day before. Is this because, as the days slide by, I am getting farther and farther away from the date my Dad died? From the date my Bessie died? I cared for them both during the summer months, lost them both in the fall and have been “paralyzed” since then. I walk, I talk, I work, I play, I function, but I haven’t been me. Sometimes it feels like I’m only going through the motions of living my life. The after effects of this double loss are the only reason that I can imagine that this has happened to me.

So I’m trying to move on with my life. I must move on with my life. I have been irrevocably changed, but still, I am alive, I am here, I must get back to the business of living. And part of that business, for me, is working on eBay.

So last night, I started again. I have listed a few things and I am determined to list a few more every day until I get up to my normal quota of items. I must get back to work.

Stop by eBay and see me. I am “thegoodshepherd45” and no, the name has no religious connotations. I chose that name for other reasons.

My life is calling me and I am trying to answer.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Gym

I can SOOOOO relate to this Cathy cartoon. I have started going to Curves again along with following my WW plan. I guess it is worth the sweat for, as many of you have noticed, I lost 10 pounds the first week. Of course, that was truly a lot of bloat and water weight, but surely some of it was fat?? I can only hope.

I’m going to Curves 3 times a week now, plus my weekly golf date. I do use a cart on the golf course, but I walk as much as possible. I just can’t carry my bag that distance or I would TRY walking the course when I play. It would be a great accomplishment for me to carry ME that distance let alone 14 golf clubs, a dozen balls, assorted tees and markers, a towel, my golf watch, sunscreen, bug repellant, a wind shirt in case of cold and a couple of water bottles. I’m impressed that I can lift the bag onto the back of the cart, forget about lifting it onto my back!!

It is SO hard to get back to exercising regularly. I KNOW it’s good for me, I KNOW it’s healthy, I KNOW it will build up the muscles in my legs and make my knees feel better, but God it is hard to push myself out the door on exercise days. However, I’m doing it. The car tries so hard to turn left and head to Baskin Robbins, or to go straight ahead and visit the bakery, however, I am strong and I turn right and head to Curves. Will power. A wondrous thing.

When I climb on those machines and the sweat starts pouring and the body starts screaming in protest, the last thing I want to hear is some maniac laughing like a hyena. Not at me, thankfully for her, but just someone laughing and talking to the lady next to her. I can’t b-r-e-a-t-h-e and she has the energy to talk and laugh AT THE SAME TIME that she is vigorously exercising. How can anyone have that much energy? Life is not fair.

But whoever promised me fair?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Marine

I play golf on a regular basis, usually about once a week. More, if I’m lucky, but I’m rarely that lucky. Too many other things going on in my life. My golf buddy and I are usually just a twosome so, we invariably get paired up with two strangers in order to make the requisite foursome. Since I am absolutely incapable of remembering somebody’s name until I’ve heard it 15 times or more, my bud and I just name our partners whatever name fits the guy. Something that we can easily remember for a few hours.

When you spend about 3-5 hours in close contact with a total stranger, you end up learning a surprising number of things about them. Golf is like that. It brings out the good and the bad in people. I often learn much more than I ever wanted to know about some person I will, in all likelihood, never see again.

Like the day we played with “control freak.” He spent the entire afternoon “frothing at the mouth” because the group in front us was moving too slowly to suit him. He yelled, he threw his club, he stomped around, he just generally acted like a jackass. He also had a comment for every frigging shot I made. “Good shot; uuummmm..not so good; great; you should’ve hit it harder; you should’ve hit it easier; maybe if you stood back just a little; maybe if you tried the 9 iron instead of the 8……” etc. etc. etc. Several holes into the game, I was ready to rip his head off and shove it up his ass. Fortunately my golf partner has a cool head and a mellow soul and he held me back. Not that I would have done any particular damage. Overweight, middle aged women are usually not too likely to harm large, well built men, however, I did have a golf club in my hand…………………….

The day we played with “short pants”, I just kept asking myself, “what in the world did he see when he looked in the mirror this morning?”. He was wearing, obviously, pants that were too short. Not shorts, not “cool” knee length pants, just regular trousers that stopped at about the top of his socks. I was dying to give him fashion advice, but once again, my partner kept me in check, assuring me that the guy did not want to hear what I had to say, nor did he care about how he looked. I was sure “short pants” was “wife-less” and therefore, in dire need of my advice, however, I listened to my partner and kept silent.

A couple weeks ago we played with “the gangsta”. As the name implies, he was dressed like he was ready for a street fight. He had on jeans that drooped so low, I was sure he would lose them, and his butt crack played peek-a-boo with us all day. He wore a chain that draped from his front pocket to his back and he was wearing a skivvy shirt on top (a wife-beater). With all that exposed skin, it was easy to see all his tattoos. He had an earring in one ear and his baseball cap was on sideways. I was truly shocked, not because I’ve never seen a gangster, (Hell, I live in L.A.) but because I’d never seen a man dress this way on the golf course. Golf seems, most of the time, to be the last refuge for the “gentleman” athlete. (As a last note, “the gangsta” was a helluva good golfer and beat us soundly. Clearly, one should not judge a book by it’s cover.)

Generally speaking, as strange looking or acting as many of our partners have been, most of them are basically just regular guys who love the game as we do. For all we know, we might be playing with Jack the Ripper or the latest pedophile from the evening news, but you can't tell, so we just give them the benefit of the doubt. (I might point out, for those who are wondering, that we are playing at a city course without the dress restrictions or membership guidelines of a country club environment.)

When we played yesterday, our two strangers seemed to be very nice, NORMAL looking guys. The key word here is “normal”. (Hard to believe there are so many strange looking people out there that like to play golf.) Anyway, yesterday’s pair were “stork man” and “the Marine”. Need I say that “stork man” was skinny, had legs all the way up to his ass and was easily 6’6”? Tall guy.

Now, let me preface these next comments by saying, I seem to have “radar” when it comes to the Marines. You’ll recall I am a Marine Corps brat. I was born at Camp Lejeune and spent my youth at military bases all over the world. My Dad was a career Marine and all the formative years of my life were spent on military bases. There were countless thousands of young men from every corner of our country as a constant in my childhood.

Somehow, all those young men left an indelible imprint on my mind and my soul. Now, today, in any crowd of men in civilian clothes, I can almost always pick out the Marine. I don’t know exactly why or how but I just can. I just know. There’s a “look” that cannot be clearly defined, but a Marine has it. The stance? The squared shoulders? The clear eyes? I have no idea, but there it is. And I know he’s not a soldier or a sailor or a flyboy, he’s a Marine. There’s a difference.

So yesterday, we get paired up with our two strangers and immediately upon introduction, my radar goes off. I’m thinking, “this guy’s a Marine” but, I think, “what are the odds?” I’m not saying anything for I don’t want to make an idiot of myself. We do have a Marine Corps base here in our state, but it's a long distance away. However, there are lots of Marines there, so it’s possible. Still, I don’t think in all our other golf pairings, we’ve ever played with a Marine.

So we tee off and down the fairway we trudge. I’m still wondering and thinking about the possibilities. When we get to the first green, “The Marine” sets his bag down on the side of the green and that’s when I see it. His golf towel, tied to his bag, has a Marine Corps emblem on it. Over the emblem are the words “Camp Pendleton”. And then I know. I was right. He IS a Marine. For some inexplicable reason I am thrilled and overjoyed to be playing golf with a Marine.

In my head I immediately start hearing…....."From the Halls of Montezuma……"

I have absolutely no logical explanation.

I guess I was brainwashed as a kid.

Need I say “The Marine” was a good player? But, of course, I expected nothing less.

Friday, February 16, 2007

In Memory of Bess

This was written back in September. I decided I'm ready to share it now.

Bessie Jane Shep-n-Ruff
July 7, 2000 – September 18, 2006

Our beloved Bess died a few days ago and we are bereft beyond words. She was the light of our lives, the shining spirit that woke us each morning and guarded us each night. We miss her so very much that there is nothing I can say that will make you understand how bad this hurts. We feel shell-shocked and empty for our sweet, loving girl is gone.

Our baby was barely 6 years old, a beautiful chocolate lab who should have been in the prime of her life, a loving, giving, kind hearted girl who always gave more than she got.

She was only 5½ when her vet said that dreaded word, the word every dog owner prays they will never hear…….cancer. We couldn’t believe it. How could this beautiful, strong, healthy young dog have lymphoma? Why her? Why our girl? There so many dogs in the world that are unloved, unwanted…..why this girl, who we loved with all our heart, a girl who was needed and wanted and adored.

There is no answer to that unanswerable question…..we are not to know why, it just is. Our beloved Bessie had cancer. We saw the best oncologists, we spent money like water and in the end, it meant nothing. We still lost our girl.

And now she is gone and we wander the house and every room holds memories. We go outside on the patio and to the pool and we see her everywhere. Her dish still sits in the kitchen floor, her toy box is still in the corner of the family room with her favorite bear sticking out of one corner. Our big bed seems empty without her large brown body lounging in the center. I scarcely know how to take a shower when there is no brown nose shoving open the shower door and stepping in to join me.

I always knew what an intimate, involved part of our lives she was, however, I don’t think I fully realized how much she was a part of me until now, when she is gone. It seems that everything I do reminds me of her. I sit at my computer and look down at my left side and see an empty floor instead of her sweet brown body. I go into the kitchen to cook and realize when I drop something on the floor, there is not an “automatic cleaner” ready and waiting to take care of the mess. I no longer need to make sure all foods are pushed back from the edge of the counter in case the “counter cleaner” decides to take inventory. I can actually go to the bathroom alone now and too late realize that I don’t want to. I can open the door leading into the garage and not get tripped as Bess races out hoping for a ride in the car or a long walk. Everywhere I turn, there she is…….memories of her truly breaking my heart with every step I take.

And the pool, that is the worst of all for the memories that come flooding back. Bess loved to swim almost as much as she loved to eat. She was a true Lab….eating and swimming were the joys of her life.

She didn’t play in the pool like a “traditional” Lab does, where you throw the toy and your Lab goes to fetch it. She made up her own games and taught us how to play them. She would stand on the steps of the pool and take her log and let it loose in the water. She would nudge it with her nose and watch it like a hawk as it slowly floated away from her. Then, when it was a few feet away from her, her muscles tensed and her eyes narrowed, and she would suddenly sail through the air and “pounce” on her “prey”. Once capturing her log, she would return to the steps and do it again, over and over and over. Any Lab parent knows how their dog will play the same game endlessly when they find something they enjoy. Bess was no exception. What made her so interesting, is that she made up her own games. We didn’t teach her to play “pounce” or how to play another of her favorite games, “catchy-catchy”. She taught us.

Catchy-catchy involved her giving us the log and then, as she clearly instructed us, we weren’t supposed to throw it until she was in place. She would wade out on her hind legs until she was standing in the center of the pool. Then like the best center fielder the Dodgers have, she would lower her head, stare intently at us and let us know she was ready to catch. It was our job, of course, to throw the toy high into the air and have it fall into the correct area so our furry center fielder could make the catch. She never missed, assuming, of course, that us fallible humans made a good throw.

Now, I can scarcely look at the beautiful turquoise water without a huge lump in my throat, for dearest Bessie is no longer there, playfully splashing and enjoying the water. Her pool was her playground and, in the worst heat of summer, she “allowed” us to join her. She would swim alongside us, back and forth, as we all enjoyed the cool water.

I wouldn’t want you to think that our sweet girl was just an empty headed “play girl” for she was so very much more. She was smart beyond any dog I’ve ever had. She was a certified Companion Dog and she finished first in her obedience classes in both Novice and Advanced. She was also a true beauty and she has blue ribbons from her showings in conformation fun matches. She could sail over a jump, take a swim, enjoy a treat or cuddle in your arms all with equal joy. Bessie truly enjoyed her life.

She was the kindest dog I’ve ever known. This may seem an unusual adjective to describe a dog, but I can think of no other that fits so well. When Bess was 2 years old, we decided to add to our fur family and we brought home Lucy, an 8 week old bundle of brown fur. Bess instantly took the baby under her wing, loved her, played with her, slept with her, shared her toys and taught her the joys and dangers of the swimming pool. She was not jealous, her big heart full of love just expanded to make room for another. They became inseparable. Bess and Lucy could not sleep without touching each other, they shared everything, they were, in fact, if not in reality, mother and daughter. They were best friends and lifetime companions. We are not alone in our grief, for dear Lucy suffers as well. Her very best friend in the world is gone and she does not understand why Bess does not come home.

There’s not much else to say. Our baby is gone, our hearts are broken and I’m not sure how I’ll get through tomorrow. However, I will continue to sing Bessie’s song that she loved so dearly, “Little Brown Dog, I Love You” and I will hold sweet Lucy close and hug her tight. Somehow, we’ll get by.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Speaking of Food

I can’t get over how much food I’m eating now that I’m eating in a “healthy way”. It’s not that I haven’t been on Weight Watchers before, for I have, but every time I give this program a go (and I’m hoping this is the last beginning), I am amazed anew at the quantity of food that I can pack away, while still remaining on “The Plan”.

I am equally amazed at how I have a true knack for finding high calorie foods without even trying. As part of re-learning to eat better, I have become a label reader again, and as I read the labels I realize that it’s no wonder I’ve been packing on the pounds over the last few years. It seems like so many, many things that I really like to eat have a billion, zillion calories in them. This is not really a big surprise, and yet who could imagine that one individually sized California Pizza Kitchen pizza with BBQ chicken on it, would be almost 1000 calores? I had some illusion that the chicken topping would help to make it not so fattening. Hah! It’s as bad as, or worse, than regular old pizza.

And take those frozen Jimmy Dean sausage and eggs biscuits. Really handy little breakfast items that you can prepare in a couple of minutes and take with you as you run out the door. I can, and have, easily polished off a couple of those for breakfast on a given morning. Now that I’m a label reader again, I read and was again horrified. As a WW, I count foods on a point system and two of those biscuits can neatly polish off almost an entire days worth of points before 8 AM!!

I am once again learning the joys of home cooking. Somehow, I slid off the path of good cooking and onto the merry-go-round that is fast food, convenience food and restaurant food. Lots of that "easy eat" stuff is really good and you can surely get hooked, but, as I tell myself regularly, they sure as hell don’t care about my health like I do. They care about my money.

Nobody loves me like I do. Nobody can take care of me like I can. That’s the mantra of the day.

Excuse me, I have to go. I hear my stove calling my name.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Call

Warning: This is not a lightweight or funny post. It’s emotional and deeply sad. You may cry. If you are at work, you may want to wait till later to read this or you may not want to read it at all. Your choice.

I was in Las Vegas. I opened the hotel room door and stumbled in. Tired, weary, headachy, annoyed that I’d lost so much money, ready for bed. In my mind were the thoughts that tomorrow would be a better day, tomorrow I’d win, tomorrow would have a brighter outlook. I just needed some sleep. Little did I know.

The red light on the telephone was flashing. I had no idea what that meant, but it caught my eye, so I walked over and read what it said on the phone. Apparently I had a message. Immediately I was worried about my fur babies. We had hired a dog sitter, a very responsible young man, the son of a friend, but still….I was worried and immediately started imagining bad things having happened to my babies. Little did I know.

I read and followed the directions on the phone and was connected to the hotel operator. She told me that someone from my home had called and I should return the call immediately. The fear immediately ramped up several notches as, again, I thought “Oh God, something has happened to one of the dogs.” Little did I know.

I called home. The dog sitter answered immediately and relayed this message: “Someone from the Medical Examiner’s office in Houston, Texas called you. They said you should call back right away.” Relief flooded me. The fur babies were alright. I didn’t know what this call might be about, but my dogs were okay. Little did I know.

It was 1 AM. I was confused about why somebody in Texas would be calling me. I conferred with my friend who had come up to the hotel room with me. She too was exhausted and ready for bed. Should I return the call at this late hour? I couldn’t imagine what they wanted. I had no idea what a Medical Examiner was or what he did for a living. My friend enlightened me. I thought about what she told me and decided the call must be about an old friend that lived in the Houston area. I couldn’t imagine why they were calling me, but maybe she had listed me as next of kin. She didn’t have much family as I recalled. Little did I know.

I decided to make the call even though it was very late. If my friend had passed away, it would be very upsetting, but it would be better to know than to lay in bed wondering. I could also find out why they were calling me, as opposed to her family, what little family there was. Little did I know.

I dialed the number and the phone rang and was answered.

Those few seconds, before the phone was picked up in Texas, were the last normal, rational, logical days of my life.

My daughter died that night. As the woman on the phone said the words that would change my life forever, I felt a strange sensation flood my body. I felt numb and at the same time there was a white-hot pain in the middle of my body as though I had been pierced with a spear. It seemed surreal. I felt like I was floating. It was like an out-of-body experience. I was up above the bed and I could see myself sitting there on the phone hearing the words that every mother fears might come when the phone rings in the middle of the night.

On no, not my child, not me, she’s an only child, not my child, not me, not me, not me, not me……………………………………

She was 28 years old. Young and beautiful and full of life and now she is gone. Forever. That’s what’s so terrible about death. The awful finality. I will never see her again. I will never hold her again and kiss her sweet face and look into her beautiful brown eyes. I will never again hear, “I love you Mom”.

That night was 11 years ago. Sometimes it feels like yesterday

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Importance of Writing

I was thinking about how important writing in this blog has become to me. It has, quite surprisingly to me, become something I can’t wait to do each day, something I do when I should be doing the laundry (see below). I was wondering where all this “repressed writing” has come from. I was just sort of idly thinking about it when I came upon the writings of another person. This very well written and intelligent woman has summed up my feelings so perfectly that I thought I would just tell you what she said. I feel exactly the same way. With slight changes due to the differences in our lives, this is a direct quote from the lady who writes “Blogs are Stupid” (see link on the left)

“I have things to say, you see, and nobody to say them to. It's not that I don't have friends...though I don't have a huge abundance of very close friends...I do have quite a few acquaintances that I'm happy enough to pass time with. But, they aren't the kind of friends with which you share certain thoughts and feelings. We talk mostly about the activity or the common thread that has brought us together…, school, dogs, travel etc. And that's fine. I enjoy talking to other people about the activities of my life.

But there are a lot of thoughts, feelings and opinions that I can't talk to other people about. Or, don't want to, because I don't want to get into a big philosophical debate. I don't discuss religion with folks, because it's a powder keg just waiting for the spark of heathenism to ignite the fires of righteous indignation and judgment.

I don't discuss politics for the same reason. And because many people are steeped in the attitudes and prejudices of an era long past, issues such as gay marriage, abortion, civil rights, and separation of church and state are equally incendiary. In real life, I stick mostly to idle chit chat, unless I am thoroughly convinced that the person I am talking to shares my views.

So I never really realized the extent to which this blog has helped me reconcile all the stuff that rattles around in my brain every day.”

So, thank you so much to the author of “Blogs are Stupid” for so beautifully expressing my thoughts as to why I write. Which, of course, does not preclude me writing about stupid and unimportant things like moaning dogs and nagging almost sisters. However, these are the thoughts in my little brain, good, bad, large, small, or somewhere in-between, and here they are for you to read.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Thoughts of the Moment

I hate to be nagged. I mean, I REALLY hate to be nagged. It’s not just a “pet peeve”, it’s like “shut-up!!!! before I have to hurt you.” Of course, that’s the problem. I would never hurt anyone. I am a gentle soul. And the nagger knows this. Does she think I don’t KNOW there’s a pile of dirty laundry awaiting my attention? Of course I know, it’s just that I’m writing right now and that’s much more important. Isn’t it? It seems so to me. And it’s not like the nagger is, oh so very busy doing anything. She is sitting on her ass watching sports, as always, but during commercials she finds time to nag me about the laundry.

Of course the laundry is blocking a walkway in the garage. Not THE walkway, but A walkway. It must be stepped over to get to that area of the garage.

Okay. I feel guilty. I am now working on the laundry. Load in the washer. Load in the dryer. The nagger has shut up. Back to writing.


I am a procrastinator. Hence the problem outlined above. I am not a terrible procrastinator, but I’m pretty bad. I didn’t used to be this way. I was always the one who got everything done firstest, bestest, etc. etc. But now, I wait until the last minute on just about everything. It is an annoying quality that I am not proud to possess. I keep wondering why I changed.

It must be The Spouse’s fault. The Spouse is the worst procrastinator ever put on this earth and I guess some of it has rubbed off. However, it’s a lousy habit. I’m going to try to do better.

I’m working on the laundry. Did I have a choice?

I’m going to work on the yard. It looks terrible. We’re really nice people but our backyard looks like Ma and Pa Kettle live here. I must get to work and clean it up. It’s a nice yard so why do I let it go to hell? Maybe because I hurt. But that’s not a good excuse. I have pain pills and I’ll happily use them to go play golf. Let’s use them to clean up the backyard, shall we? Thank God for the California tradition of 6 foot high, block wall fences around the backyards. At least nobody can see how terrible it looks.

It is so dusty under my bed that it is probably beyond my comprehension. We have a wonderful cleaning lady, God Bless her, but she can’t clean around all the boxes and stored crap under the bed, so it doesn’t get touched. Hence, dirt and/or dust beyond imagining. Right after the backyard, I swear.

Enough promises for now. If I line up too much, I’ll just start procrastinating again.

Final note: we are a three person household: myself, The Spouse and the “Old Maid Almost Sister” who is the nagger. The Spouse makes me crazy at regular intervals, but The Spouse and The Nagger are two different people. Thought you might want to know that.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Moanin' Dog

My dear sweet Lucy is a moaner. And I do mean a real MOANER. Not a whiner, a barker, or a howler, but a moaner. She must have something in her mouth as she moans. This is absolutely mandatory to get the proper moan tone. She’s not real picky about what the mouth object is, so it could be a tennis ball, a teddy bear, a tug rope or a bone, but it has to be SOMETHING. Proper moaning cannot occur unless there is something in the mouth to moan around.

When a moaning event is pending, e.g. she has heard the car in the driveway and someone she loves is about to come in the door, she will race around like a mad woman in order to find something to put in her mouth so the moaning can commence. The ideal item is soft, like a good moaning rag should be, and she will whine as she rushes around searching for the perfect moaning device. Once it is found and properly placed in her mouth, then “let the good times roll”. The moaning is off and running.

The moans are loud and long and the more we laugh, the louder it gets. (I used to worry about what the neighbors would think we were doing over here!)The moaning is accompanied by a tail wagging that is so frenzied that her body literally becomes “U” shaped. Hopefully, the tail is nowhere near a table with items on it, for one powerful sweep can clear a tabletop.

She moans and wags, moans and wags, moans and wags for about 45-60 seconds and then it’s over. The moans wind down, the tail slows down and life returns to normal.

We have been properly welcomed home.

Friday, February 9, 2007


My body and brain have this really annoying thing going on……they are different ages. I realize that maybe this sounds like it’s not possible, but let me assure you that it is.

My body is that of a rotund, arthritic Baby Boomer and my mind still thinks I’m an athletic 20 year old. I think this is a fairly common phenomenon. I once talked to my Dad about this subject and he said that he experienced the same thing. He felt that even though he was in his 80’s, his mind still thought about things like a 20 year old. I’m not saying that we don’t gather wisdom and knowledge as we age, I’m just saying that while our brain is gathering all this information, it doesn’t see itself as aging.

This wouldn’t be a problem except that sometimes your brain thinks you can do something, and your body can’t begin to keep up with your brain’s expectations. Take my athletic abilities for example.

In my wild and errant youth, I really was quite the jock. I lettered in sports in high school, and, this was before the great majority of high schools even had sports for girls. I played softball from my elementary school days through to my mid 30’s and I was GOOD. I’m not just bragging, I really was good. I was the captain of various teams, I batted clean-up, I was a home run hitter, I was a star pitcher, a first baseman and a back-up left fielder. I’ve got the MVP trophies, newspaper write-ups, dusty ballglove and ruined knees to prove my claims.

And you thought only the football boys ruined their knees with sports. Oh no, try about 20 years worth of sliding into bases, leaping high for that spectacular catch and taking a line drive to the kneecap and your knees won’t feel too good either when the “golden years” arrive. (“Golden” my ass, how about the “I’m paying for my wild youth” years…….makes a lot more sense).

But anyway, on with my story. A while back, the organization I work for, threw a large, company-wide picnic-barbeque type event. We had lots and lots of people there. We had staked out a large section of a local park, had mountains of food, lots of cold drinks, all the requisite squealing, excited children and lots of middle-aged people sitting around in lawn chairs with their feet propped up. Right in the middle of all this activity was a baseball diamond.

Some clever soul, knowing the diamond was within “our” territory had brought a bag full of supplies; bats, balls, gloves, bases, etc. etc. At some point during the afternoon, someone, of course, suggested that we should “git up a game of ball” and before you knew it, we were selecting teams. I, of course, was right in the thick of the action for, after all, I am an old pro when it comes to softball. Right? In my minds eye I had visions of glory: smashing a homer over the fence, catching the game winning flyball, pitching the game ending third strike. I assured my team captain that he doing the right thing when he picked me…I can PLAY, I assured him. Put me anywhere, I am a PLAYER.

So, he put me at shortstop. Now, as any real player knows, this is a very active, jump and move fast, kind of position. When the ball is hit, it’s coming fast and you need to scoop it up and throw to first base like greased lightning in order to get the runner out. I discovered, to my great dismay, that my “greased lightning” days were far behind me.

The ball was hit, it was coming straight at me, I jumped and ran and bent to make the running, scooping catch and throw, but, somehow, there seemed to be weights on my ankles and when I bent to scoop up the ball, I couldn’t seem to get all the way down to the ground. The ball went flying past me heading into center field. This was repeated several times….ball to the left of me, ball to the right of me, ball right square at me…….I missed them all. The team captain moved me to right field. Oh, the pain……right field. The place where you put the guy who can’t play, but you have to play him. The place where the nerd who can’t catch gets stuck. And here I am, the MVP, in right field. I was crushed.

However, I reassured myself, all is not yet lost. Just wait until I get up to bat. I am a power hitter. I will knock that ball out of the park. Just because my fielding skills are a little rusty………

I stood nervously in the batter’s box. I squirmed my feet around in the dust, took a few practice swings, bent from the waist, cocked my bat and waited. The ball flew past me so fast, I didn’t even realize it had been pitched…”strike one” I heard. I bent over more, rearranged myself and this time I was ready. The ball left the pitcher’s hand, I followed it with my keen eye and with a deep breath, I swung with all my might. I heard the ball connect…..that crack! As bat meets ball is an unmistakable sound. I dropped the bat and started to run, my funky knees flying and the pain seemingly not so important. As I “raced” towards first, I glanced to my left expecting to see the center fielder racing for the fence, trying to intercept my long, undoubtedly home run, hit. Instead, I saw the pitcher bending over to scoop up the ball that was trickling slowly up to his feet…………

That night, as I lay in the tub, soaking my aching body, I thought, oh well, there’s always golf………………….but that’s a story for another day.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

More TV Talk.........

I thought today I would share some more TV thoughts and opinions, specifically about a cable series this time. This one is a Showtime fav of ours, and if you’re not watching it, you’re missing some very compelling and interesting TV.

The series I’m referring to is “Dexter”. It has a really “off the wall” premise and when I first heard about it, I was very unsure I would like it. I’m not a blood and guts kinda girl, however, we decided to give it a try and see what the show had to offer. We were immediately hooked as the main character is a very likeable guy, even if he is a serial killer. Now, wait a minute, don’t run off because I said that, it really is a great, well done show. You just need to have a taste for the “slightly bizarre” and you’ll get right into it. You see, Dexter is a “good guy” killer, if that’s even possible, and it does seem that it is in his case. You find yourself rooting for him and hoping he will take care of business very soon. The hook is that Dexter only takes out the very, very bad guys that the system doesn’t seem to be able to deal with. I know that the word for that is “vigilante” and that it isn’t right, but it is certainly satisfying to see some truly, horrific person who has done things you can’t imagine in your worst nightmare, “get his” at the hands of Dexter.

The concept for this series was drawn straight from a book called “Darkly Dreaming Dexter” by Jeff Lindsay. The author has actually written two books about Dexter and is, apparently, in the process of writing a third. I’m sure the professional synopsis writers can do a better job of explaining this than I can, so here is what it says on the front flap of the first book:

“Meet Dexter, a polite wolf in sheep’s clothing . . . a monster who cringes at the site of blood . . . a serial killer whose one golden rule makes him immensely likable: he only kills bad people.Dexter Morgan isn’t exactly the kind of man you’d bring home to Mom. Though he’s playful and has a wonderfully ironic sense of humor, Dexter’s one character flaw (his proclivity for murder) can be off-putting. But at heart Dexter is the perfect gentleman, supportive of his sister, Deb, a Miami cop, and interested only in doing away with people who really deserve his special visit. Dex is quite good-looking but totally indifferent to (and, frankly, a bit puzzled by) the attentions paid to him by women. Despite the fact that he can’t stand the sight of blood, he works as a blood-spatter analyst for the Miami police department, a job that allows him to keep tabs on the latest crimes and keep an eye open for his next quarry.Dexter’s well-organized life is suddenly disrupted when a second, much more visible serial killer appears in Miami. Dex is intrigued, even delighted, by the fact that the other killer appears to have a style reminiscent of his own. Yet he can’t help but feel that the mysterious new arrival is not merely invading his turf, but reaching out to him as well. This new killer seems to be doing more than copying Dexter—he seems to be saying, "Come out and play." Dexter’s secret life makes for a lonely existence . . . even a lovable monster can be intrigued by the prospect of finding a friend.Introducing one of the most witty and original narrators in years, Jeff Lindsay’s Darkly Dreaming Dexter is a fresh, surprising, and brilliantly executed novel that is sure to receive wide acclaim“.

We are totally hooked on this series and can’t recommend it highly enough. This is excellent, well-written, intriguing television at its best. Try it, you’ll like it.

Note: the first season of Dexter just ended and the second season hasn’t started. I’m not sure if the DVD of the first season is available, however, if it is, start there and then you’ll be ready when the new season starts up.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

And Off We Go..........

I’ve gotten a bit ahead on my class prep so decided I have time to write a bit. When I didn’t write much earlier, it was kind of bothering me and I suddenly realized that I was suffering from “blog withdrawal”! I can’t believe just writing down the relatively uninteresting events of my life has become so important to me. This must be what the teacher meant when she told me “journaling is good for you, it will help you to sort out the details of your life”. I thought she was crazy, but here I am, so who knew?

I went to the doctor yesterday and he told me all the stuff I already knew about me and my body, but somehow when HE said it, it seemed much more believable. Why don’t I believe myself? Maybe because I lie to me as in “you look great” or “you’re not really fat, just big-boned” or “these damn pants shrunk”, etc. etc. etc.

I already KNEW the truth, but, somehow, I just wasn’t ready to act on it. Now I believe that I am. I certainly hope that I am. Nobody can do this but me when all is said and done. There is no magic wand…….if only.

Not that I haven’t tried to lose weight before, because who the hell hasn’t? Weight loss, or the attempt anyway, is a national pastime. I’ve tried them all from the grapefruit diet to Jenny Craig to Atkins to Richard Simmons to Weight Watchers and 64 others that I can’t even remember the name of. And yet, here I am, overweight, unhappy, unhealthy, and once again ready to try.

Doc thinks I should just “give-up” all the attempts and go the bariatric surgery route, but I just refuse. I will NOT have my body cut on and mutilated internally just because I can’t shut my mouth and stop eating so much. By God if I can stop smoking, and I did, I should be able to do anything. I certainly have will power, the cigarettes proved that.

So why is food so different?? Beats the hell out of me. I don’t know the answer to that question. The Doc further pointed out that only 10% of dieters take it off and keep it off. My odds are not good. Hence, his interest in me considering the bariatric route.

I have done a lot of internal thinking about this……………If my knees are this bad at 61, I have to do something or the future is not looking good. I don’t want to be in a wheelchair when I’m my mother’s age. That’s just not an option for me. I have to play golf. I have to walk the 127. I have to walk the stores and shop the sales. I have to stand in front of a classroom and lecture students about healthcare. Do we see some irony there??

Knee replacement works, but I’m too heavy. And if I lose the weight, I probably won’t need knee surgery. So says the Doc. Interesting situation……………..

No point in going on and on, but I’m heading back to Weight Watchers and my regular Friday morning meetings. I’m also going back to “Curves”. I have been paying for a monthly membership to “Curves” EVERY MONTH for quite a long time, so it seems very sensible to start using the membership and stop wasting money. Hello! This is not rocket science. If I pay for it, I really should use it.

Hello fruits and vegetables and smaller portions.

Goodbye chocolate, french fries and fried chicken.

Hello bathroom scale that must be dusted off and exercise machines that will make me sore.

Goodbye Oreos, eggnog, dressing drenched salads and potatoes floating in butter.

Hello smaller sizes, more agility and less pain.

I’m not brave enough to post my beginning weight, however, I will keep you apprised of the poundage, lose or gain, every week after my WW meeting. Maybe the very idea of having to tell you all that I’ve gained will help keep me on the straight and narrow path. You think? Keep your fingers crossed for me. The war is beginning and I NEED to win.

My knees and I thank you for your good wishes.

Red, White & Blue

Don't have time for a long post today, but I wanted to share this with all of you. Remember, I'm a Marine Corps brat and a patriot to the bone so this brought tears to my eyes. My sister-in-law sent it to me and it is surely worth your time. Be sure to turn up the volume on your computer.

Monday, February 5, 2007

TV - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

I undoubtedly watch too much TV. I’m a major fan, no question about it. Now, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not one of those people who lives their life in front of the television. However, most evenings you can find me reclining comfortably in front of the flat screen, remote control in hand, eagerly checking out the nights offerings. (As mentioned in previous posts, my spouse works nights, hence I usually have control of the remote….. otherwise, it would be a toss-up)

I do spend a lot of time on my computer, I like to read, I play with my dogs, I like to cook….I really do have other interests, but watching TV is way up there on the list. So, since that’s the case, I feel more or less “qualified” to comment on the content of TV or, at the very least, to give you my undoubtedly biased opinion.

I’m not one of those paid critics whose job it is to evaluate shows and spout opinions, I just watch what I like and turn off what I don’t. So here’s some of my thoughts, good and bad, about a few of this season’s television shows. Maybe it will inspire you to check out something that you haven’t seen before.

We love “The Closer”. It’s so nice to a see a smart, good looking woman, who is occasionally klutzy, with lots of brains and savvy, who is not the male hero’s sidekick, assistant, running mate or whatever. She’s the boss! Being in charge and running the show obviously appeals to me. TNT is doing heavy duty re-runs right now as the new season is about to start. I highly recommend this show.

We like the original “CSI”, the one in Las Vegas. I think Gil Grissom is a very cool guy and I’m extremely annoyed that he is on “hiatus”. I hope hiatus is not code for “good-bye, I’m sick of this show and never coming back”. I think he is the heart of the show, although I must admit that I’m a big fan of Katherines as well. I do think the whole Grissom and Sara love story thing is stupid and unwise. He’s too old for her. What were the writers thinking? Does she have a “daddy complex” or something?

We like “American Idol”. It’s one of only two reality shows that we can stand. The other is “The Amazing Race”. I know that Idol is catching a lot of flack right now for being “cruel” or “insensitive” to contestants. But all I can say is, if you try out for this show you KNOW you’re on camera, you know that the entire world may be watching and you know that Simon can be vicious. So, if you can’t sing, STAY HOME. There is no way some of these fools really believe they can sing. They just want their two minutes of fame in front of the camera. And some of them are hysterical in their idiocy. If that’s cruel, then so be it.

We are very fond of “Criminal Minds”, a great show that too few people are watching. I was analyzing why I like it so much and I guess it’s because it’s the thinking man’s mystery. The heroes don’t search for evidence, rarely are personally violent, and almost always get their man just through getting into his head. They are behavioral analysts and it’s their job to get inside the bad guys head and figure him out. Once they’ve got his psychological profile nailed, then they can usually catch him. But not always. I guess I like that. Less guns, more thinking and you’re never absolutely positive the good guys will win in the end.

My favorite TV nights are Thursday and Sunday as I’ve fallen under the spell of “McDreamy” just like most everyone else and we are major fans of “Gray’s Anatomy”. The show that follows, “Men in Trees”, I originally thought was going to be a rip-off of the old “Northern Exposure” but it turns out it has a charm and sensibility all its own. Anne Heche, who can’t seem to figure out who she likes to sleep with in real life, is surprisingly warm and funny. They are little “slice of life” stores and they are enjoyable. The show has joined the “serial” trend happening in series TV and you may take a few episodes to catch up, but it’s worth it. Watch it, you’ll like it.

And as for Sunday, again, like a large portion of the nation, I can’t wait to see what happens next on Wisteria Lane. But the really big Sunday night news is the new series “Brothers and Sisters”. I’ve always liked Sally Field since the old days when she was “The Flying Nun” so I tuned in expecting to like this show. I was not disappointed. In many ways, the widowed Mom and her brood of adult children reminds me of our family. Maybe that’s why I like it so much. Lots of good family based stories. Give it a look-see, or for those early-to-bedders, hit the record button on the DVR.

Lastly, I do agree with my sister that you should NOT miss “Bones”. Great show, good stories, beautiful and/or handsome hot leads and enough “quirk” to keep you coming back for more. The stories are great. Don’t miss it.

I could go on and on for, in my opinion, there’s a lot of good stuff to watch on the tube. You generally have to pick your way through an enormous amount of crap, however, if you take the time to do so, there really are a lot of good shows out there.

More TV commentary to come in a future posting. I might even throw in some movie opinions as well. Time will tell. What do YOU like? Maybe you’re watching something great that I’ve missed. Share, share…….

Sunday, February 4, 2007

The Red Stuff

He would say “pass the red stuff” and we knew immediately what he meant. He couldn’t remember the name of that delicious crispy, salty, sweet stuff that we all love so well. But we knew what Dad wanted, and we passed the casserole full of Cici’s strawberry-pretzel salad down the table. Of course, it isn’t really “salad” because it’s so sweet and it isn’t really fruit, since it has no strawberries, but nonetheless, the “salad” was on the table to be eaten as a main dish. I would sometimes save it for dessert myself, as I thought it should definitely be in the dessert category.

However, if I did that, then I might miss out on one of Cici’s many incredibly delicious, inventive cakes. You never knew just what the choice of the night might be; a Mountain Dew cake? a Health bar cake? a Prune cake? No matter what it was, it was guaranteed to be moist, delicious and a real crowd pleaser

Nobody can prepare that down-home, country cooking like our Cici. Dad knew that an invite to Cici and JV’s home meant an invitation for the food he loved. And how she babied him and fixed his favorite foods and loved him. He was so much more than a father-in-law, he was the Dad she should have had. He gave her his son and his love and his friendship and she gave him, among many other things, the food he loved so well.

When it comes to fried chicken, the Colonel should just hang his head and move over. Nobody can “put a scald” on fried chicken like Cici. And corn? If there was sweet corn on the table, it had just been freshly cut from the cob and was creamy and delicious. The hot biscuits and fresh gravy go without saying and it was REAL gravy, none of that canned stuff for Dad. The mashed potatoes were guaranteed to be smooth and buttery, and we certainly can’t forget those sweet potatoes that he loved so well. The ones she prepared extra special just for him, with brown sugar and nuts and a crispy topping.

Cici says she learned to cook in her grandmother’s kitchen, standing on a box, so she could reach the top of the stove. In my minds eye, I can just see that little girl, busily stirring a pot of something good, or on her box over the sink, learning to cut corn off the cob. Who could imagine, all those years ago, that that little girl would become such a beloved member of our family? Who knew that we would become the lucky recipients of all that love and wisdom and good cooking?

To our family, Cici is one of the best cooks in the world. An invitation to her table is an invitation to the best in Southern hospitality and good, old-fashioned farm cooking. However, it’s also an invitation to come and bask in her warmth and to experience her giving heart first hand. She is such a sweet, giving, loving woman. Nobody who knows her can help but love her. She has so many friends.

How did we get so lucky to have her, not only as our friend, but as a member of our family? Thanks for loving us Cici. You are well loved in return.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Sleeping With Dogs

Lucy, my chocolate Lab, is a wonderful dog. Quiet, unassuming, easy to be with, not demanding, just an overall good girl. Because she has a quiet nature, she has always been somewhat overshadowed by Bess, her older, and seemingly more talented, big sister. Bess was exuberant, full of gusto and was always number one. There’s always an alpha dog in the pack and, amongst the canines in our house, that was Bess. That certainly didn’t mean we didn’t love Lucy, for we did and we do, but somehow, Bessie was always number one. But now, Bessie is gone………….and we do grieve for her, so long and so hard. Our lives will never be quite the same. So many tears, so many memories, so much sadness.

Lucy has suffered right along with us. She and Bess were bonded at the hip. They couldn’t sleep without touching one another. When Lucy toddled in the door at 8 weeks of age, Bessie fell in love and immediately had a daughter. They were inseparable, playing, wrestling, swimming, eating, sleeping, they were always together. And then one day, Bess didn’t come home. Lucy wandered the house and yard looking for her. She lay at the door and waited for her. She held Bessie’s toys in her paws as she slept and waited. A knock at the door, the sound of a car and she jumped to the alert….it might be Bess! But it was not. Bess was not coming home again.

And Lucy grieved. She lay, unmoving, staring out the glass door at the pool. She had tears in her eyes and sometimes her soft furry cheeks were wet. Dogs DO cry and they DO suffer when they lose their companion. She wouldn’t eat, she lost interest in swimming, she just laid and waited for Bess to come home. Lucy had to have medication to help her. She paced at night, she suffered, she missed her beloved friend beyond words.

But with time and medication and a new friend, she is getting better. When I opened the hall closet the other day, she stepped inside and sniffed Bessie’s leash and you could see the pain in her eyes. But she accepted it and backed out of the closet and went on her way. She has made Bessie’s pink furry hippo her own, and now she holds it when she naps and sometimes she buries her nose in it and takes very deep breaths. Can she still smell Bess? Probably. Dog’s noses are so sensitive.

Now she sleeps with me in our big king size bed. My spouse works at night so Lucy and I sprawl in the bed together and now it’s me she has to touch before she can sleep. We reach for each other in the night and I stroke the warm brown fur and she scooches closer and we sleep spoon fashion and snore the night away.

Now it’s Lucy’s time.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Chocolate - Is It Worth The Price?

Hello my friends in blogland and I apologize for being absent for several days. I would like to write daily, like my exceptionally efficient and gifted sister, however, so far I haven’t managed that feat. This past week has been an unusually busy time in my life and it has been like the proverbial zoo around here. Hence no postings for a few days. At this point, the semester is well “launched”, classes are underway, the “little darlings” have filled my classrooms and are “hanging from the rafters”, so I guess things will start to settle down a bit now.

College is not like “regular” school in that the students don’t HAVE to come to your particular class. They choose the classes that they want to take. If they enroll in your class, then it is expected that they will show up, however, they may not choose your class but decide on another one instead. You can end up sitting in a classroom with not enough student enrollment to keep the class going. No students = no class = no paycheck. With this kind of pressure at the beginning of each semester, it’s no wonder I go crazy. I should point out that I’m not a tenure track professor, with a guaranteed job, but a low-level “lecturer”,who works at the whim of the administration and my job is totally subject to the number of student bodies who choose to enroll in my classes. Hence the pressure at the beginning of each semester.

As many of you know, I teach in the healthcare field. As a result, I end up finding out all kinds of interesting factoids that I might not otherwise know. (I don’t think I would go trolling the Internet looking for interesting news about obesity if I weren’t teaching a healthcare related class.) Anyway, as a result of these searches for information, that help to keep my lectures interesting and up to date, I ran across the following facts about obesity in America. I thought they were interesting enough to share, so here goes:

1. Doctors now need longer needles to penetrate the layers of fat on American’s bodies.

2. Liposuction is now the most commonly performed cosmetic surgery.

3. Diabetes has risen 60% in the last decade.

4. Today’s size 10 was a size 14 in the 1940’s.

5. Major stores are selling plus sized clothes for youth.

6. Major plus size retailers, e.g. Lane Bryant, are expanding their stores and growing at a phenomenal rate.

7. One of the reasons the Boston Red Sox rebuilt their stadium? The seats are too small for today’s fans. The new seats are 4” wider.

8. More benches and bigger seats have been installed on Puget Sound ferries to accommodate wider riders.

9. Because of safety concerns, the FAA has instructed airlines to add 10 pounds to approved passenger weights

10. Nationally, some airlines are lifting tray tables higher on new planes to accommodate burgeoning bellies.

11. Restaurants are buying wider booths to accommodate their customer’s expanding girth.

12. Apparel makers are promoting more clothing with elastic waistbands.

13. The lethal combination of fat flyers and petite plane seats has become THE big fat burning issue on the lips of traveling Americans, a nation of people already wobbling, burger and large fries in hand, towards premature death from obesity-related illnesses.

This move to accommodate our spreading girth is being replicated at sports arenas, theatres and cinemas across the nation. Almost every concert venue, from Washington D.C. to the Hollywood Bowl, has installed bigger seats. Car and clothing manufacturers are involved in a $4 million study on the changing shape of Americans in a bid to ensure their next generation of designs fit.

70% of Americans are overweight or obese and we are going to pay for it big time in the years to come. Our healthcare system will stagger under the burden of taking care of us.

Food for thought isn’t it?