Saturday, November 30, 2013

NaBloPoMo 30: Oh, No, She Di-int!


Last post tomorrow. I promise.

Because I did have in mind a closing post, but here is what I did today:
  • Up at 8 a.m.
  • Breakfast
  • Deep clean. I mean, deep clean. When is say DEEP clean, I don't mean dusting baseboards. I am talking about getting anal and cleaning the caps on shaving cream lids. 
  • Errands: Drop Stuff at Goodwill
  • Drop Stuff at storage
  • Bring stuff home from storage for the event next weekend
  • ***keep in mind all of this involves lifting, so, skip gym***
  • Tend to this and that for the event next weekend
  • Tend to work stuff
  • Grocery shop
  • On a whim, because I had nothing else to do, did all of the Christmas decorating. Now it's done.
  • Dinner O' Thanksgiving Leftovers
  • Movie du jour
Midnight. Time to blog.

I mean, time to play my mulligan.

This is not like yesterday's post, in which I had nothing to say. I have TONS to say tonight; I just recognize that it will take me until well after 2 a.m. to gather the photos and text, and time is what I do not have.

12:10. Brush teeth, wash face, read Buzzfeed until I'm snoring while I'm still sitting up.

End of day.

Friday, November 29, 2013

NaBloPoMo 29: Rambling for the Sake of Posting

Writer's Block. 

I have it. Or rather, I have exhaustion, right now. I have been in front of a computer for most of the day today, either working or writing, and now that it's time to blog my brain is empty.

I brainstorm ideas on how to get ideas. Go to the photo boxes, pull one out, and write a story or a memory. I try it. I don't remember anything about any of those people, because I am tired.

A thing, I'll look around at my things and write about a thing. I glance around, and see a plume. What do I have to say about a plume? Nothing, that's what.

Cooking! Does posting a recipe count as blogging? What if I tell about how I splash a little pancake batter into the egg mix for french toast? Ugh, I feel too fat to write about food, after yesterday.

Military stories! They're rolling in, I'll tell one of those. Oh, I should save them for the new website.

Free writing then. Go!

Patrick Conroy has a new book out, "The Death of Santini." Must get that. I'm out of eggs. Remember how I used to be an insomniac? No more, I sleep like a rock. I am a lucid dreamer, which can be interesting, but doesn't find me as restful. I have to keep myself it then.  Black Friday: No thank you; I had one errand to run today in which I could see the BF traffic, and was relieved that my travels took me in the opposite direction. 

Enough, enough. Rocksleep beckons, and I'm going to need my rest. 


Thursday, November 28, 2013

NaBloPoMo 28: Mama Update

My mother has Alzheimer's. I documented some of our trials in a blog called Lovin' La Mama Loca, a few years ago, but as her condition worsened, I've had a more difficult time writing about it.

I've bristled, over the years, at those that have lamented "it's as if you've already lost her." I hung on to what we had, and tried to embrace every minute of cognition that was left. There was plenty of her left even after she needed help with her checkbook. Even when she couldn't differentiate 1 p.m. from 1 a.m. and called in the wee hours of the morning to ask me where she left her glasses, she was lovely.

When you ask me how she is doing these days, I don't often know what to say. I usually blather something like,  "She is physically fit. She is so sweet. She is still smiley. She is lovely."

That said, my sweet Mama does not know my name, anymore; I can't even remember the last time she addressed me by "Lori," and the word doesn't spark any recognition in her. Nor does "Lee" or "Teri," (my father, and her husband of 40 years, and my sister, who passed away 4 years ago).

Some days I visit her, and she looks right through me. It depends on her schedule. If I catch her napping, she's more disoriented, and will barely speak. She says little else, but "I love you," and "You are beautiful."  Those are her catch phrases to everyone—the staff loves her. I can prompt a giggle by calling her Mickey Mouse, or saying "'tickle tickle tickle," but rarely does she say more.

I took a few videos of her today, with the intention of writing this blog. She was amazingly talkative and almost bowled me over with her statements "I think so," and "it's good." That is a lot of yakking for her, these days.

I have to admit that there are days when I visit her that I feel completely alone. Her affairs are mine alone to deal with—I'd rather be sharing this sorrow with my sister, you know? Most people "don't want to remember her this way." I understand this, and I know that if she did have visitors, she'd have no memory of them when they left her sight.

It it a lot, to miss her so much and yet, to feel so lonely in her presence. Yes, I've reached the point now where it does feel as if I have lost her.

But I still take some comfort, for her: If my mother would have known ahead of time that she were to lose her words, and if she could have had a choice of the two things she would say, over and over, to everyone she met, they would have been:
I love you, and You are beautiful.
Anyone that knows her will verify that these are words that defined her, for her entire life. If you knew her, she loved you and found you beautiful.

I'm so glad she can still tell you that.

It's all she would have wanted to say.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

NaBloPoMo 27: Thinkin' Bout My Mama

It is interesting to be at an age, now, in which I am a lot older than my parents were in my memories of them.  I remember vividly, for instance, when my father was a heavy smoker. Everyone smoked in the house back then; every house had an ashtray in it, the same way one would have a can opener, or something.  We'd race up to hug him, and sting ourselves on a lit cigarette that we hadn't noticed was in his hand. It's insane, now, when I think of being a kid in the 60s, and accidentally being burned by so many open smokers in one house. 

I remember also my father's regaling of his lying on the floor in our hallway and being unable to catch his breath. I remember his saying, "I am 29 years old, and I cannot breath. If I don't quit now, I'm going to die." And he quit, cold turkey, ne'er a cigarette did we see in our house again, ever.

1968, it was. I am 21 years older, now, than my father was then. My own son is, at this time, 2 years younger than my father was then.

I begin to see my parents, and my whole life, in an entirely different light, as I--ahem--age.


Clint unwrapped an ice cream sandwich tonight, after dinner. He kept an eye on the television, and unwrapped another. For some reason, it jarred a memory of my mother, those ice cream sandwiches.

When were were little, my sister and I would spend 1 week a summer with my Grandmother, in Deselm, Illinois. Population (in my young eyes, and still not far off) the 4 people that lived in my Grandmother's house. Grandma, 1 aunt, and 2 uncles. And a neighbor named Whitey. 

My Dad worked nights, and I remember my sister and I worrying about Mom, being home alone every night while we were gone. Poor Mommy, so bored and lonely.

I look back now, of course, and realize that she was all of 33 years old. She was a daycare mother in our 3-bedroom ranch house, and took care of up to 10 children--babies and preschoolers all--by herself every day. When those 10 kids went home at 5:00, she still had two (wonderful, yet) screechy little girls at each other's throats at any given time, to tend to.

I see, now, that she was probably not as miserable as we imagined her, when we vacated for a week.

I have a vivid memory of Mom telling us of "ice cream sandwiches" that she'd made while we were gone. She had baked a chocolate cake, butterflied it, put a layer of ice cream on the bottom layer, topped it off with the second half, and put the whole lot back in the freezer. 

Bubble baths and candles and reading, and homemade ice cream sandwiches.

She had eaten them all. By herself. She didn't save any ice cream sandwiches for me and Teri!! And she never made them for us after telling us about them!! Can you believe it? No ice cream sandwiches for her two bratty daughters?

I'm writing about this now because I'm going to write about her tomorrow. I like remembering my mother as I remembered her, and now, as I never knew her.

My sister and I never saw her as a gorgeous woman that basked in a candle-lit bubble bath, or eating pan of homemade ice cream sandwiches all by herself.

I see it now.

I see her now.

I wish that she could know that.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

NaBloPoMo 26: Facing the Day with Hurray

I'm not a morning person. I don't like getting up in the dark, or the cold. You won't find me crawling out of bed to go the gym before work. I hate waking up with to shrill alarm of any kind. The alarm I use awakens me with gentle flute music that gets a little louder the longer it plays. I like to ease into my day.

It occurred to me about a year ago that I was a little grumpy when that alarm went off, flute or no flute. I began to think about how the first word I spoke on most days was "shit!" in response to the alarm clock.

What a terrible way to start every day of my  life! I know damned well that I am lucky to be able to wake up and get out of bed on my own accord. What if I was suddenly granted my wish: Bed all day long, no getting out of bed. Well. Then I'd want to get out of bed, of course. If I would rather get out of bed then stay in it all day, then I should wake up with a positive note, because I am so lucky to get what I want! 

So I decided to give myself a week to change my attitude. For 7 days I would say "Hurray!" the minute the alarm went off.

The first day it was funny. I did it! I hurrayed, and I laughed. HURRAY! It's time to get up.

The next day, Hurray. There. I did it.

On the days that I really wanted to revert back to my standard "oh, shit" greeting, I still croaked out a sorry, insincere, "h'rayy," which in turn, amused me.

Guess what! I felt better. Every single day, I felt better. If I woke up resisting the morning, and my "hurray" smacked of "oh, freakin' hurray" in tone, I still, by God, said it.

I did not stop, after 7 days. I still start my day with "hurray" and I stand by this: It makes a difference. It is small. It is just a word. But it's a positive word, and I think replacing even one negative word a day with a positive one for the rest our lives does make a difference. It adds up, and I double-dog-dare you to try this for one week and see for yourself.

If you give it a shot, even for a day, let me know how it goes.

I'm out of here for now though; it's getting late, and I have to get up early.


Monday, November 25, 2013

NaBloPoMo 25: Impact

I contemplate, sometimes, the people I've met that have made a major impact in my life. The unexpected people, when you look back.

When I was 16, I got my first real job working at Arby's. I'd been babysitting—and getting paid for it since I was 10, and I'd been mowing yards for extra money for almost as long, so I fancied myself a very hard worker.

One slow Friday night, after the boss had let just about everyone go home, we were slammed with a bus. One guy worked the slicer, and my boss, John Kranz, and I, manned the registers for the sudden onslaught of 60 or so hungry people. I took orders and filled them and rang them up and gave their change and got their fries and salad dressings and what-have you. As was my job.

When it was all over, John folded his arms across his chest, and said, matter-of-factly, "Did you notice how many people I waited on, compared to how many people you waited on?" Why, no, I had not been keeping tabs. He went on to point out that the ratio was something like 3 to 57. He was very kind about it, but it was still a glass of water in my face. I had always been so proud of being such a good employee, and now it was being suggested that I had no hustle!?

I brought my A-game from there on out, and to this day I am both highly irritated with any employee that won't focus on his or her job, and amused, hoping for their sake that their own personal John Kranz will come along and steer them into good employee-ship!


Another example of someone giving me the what-two-for was—and oh, she'll be so surprised when she reads this—a school friend, Shari Haubner. I walked home from school most days when we were in about 7th or 8th grade. One day Shari was telling me something about home or school, or something, while I tra-la-la'd along next to her. She suddenly said "you aren't even listening. You haven't heard a thing I've said." And she walked off!

I had, of course, no argument. She was right. I was off in my own little world, completely ignoring her, which was not what good friends do, and really, downright rude.

I have since tried to be a better listener, although sometimes I do get too excited and yap over the top of people.

I'm sure there are more examples, but these two events in particular come to my mind often. These moments were impactful for me, in that I did change my direction, pretty much for the rest of my life, on these two points. Maybe I would have figured these things out on my own, or perhaps someone else would have come along to set me straight...but what if they had not? Don't we all know adults that do the bare minimum in their jobs, letting others pick up the pieces? Or haven't we all been talking to someone who has obviously tuned us out?

Big thanks to John and Shari, then, for preventing me from growing up to become a complete asshole. Because without them, who knows? If it weren't for them, maybe I'd be nothing but a lazy bad listener.


Tell me yours. Who in your life has ever made you realize something you could maybe put a little work into, or said something that made you change the way you do something?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

NaBloPoMo 24: First Pro Football Game

I went to my first pro football game today, isn't it about time? I'm not really a big football fan anymore. I watched it religiously when I was a kid, still living at home with my parents. My Dad and I were big Chicago Bears fans, and so I was looking forward to going today, even if I have kind of forgotten a lot of the rules.

No purses!?
The news was broken to me just last night that we are not allowed to carry our purses into the Edward Jones Dome, in St. Louis. This was a challenge for me only because I wore yoga pants with  no pockets, and my ugly "Bear Coat," which is really a sweater. A pocketless sweater. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, though: I walked in with my phone and reading glasses in my bra, a portable hairbrush tucked into my sock, and a lip balm in the palm of my gloves.

(You can see what kind of sports fan I am, when I start my post with a paragraph about my purse.)

The lines to get into the stadium were very very long, and chaotic. It seemed to me that this was the first time that 60,000 fans had ever shown up to watch a football game there, and they were completely unprepared. They open the doors at 10:30, and the games starts at noon. We arrived 45 minutes early, were standing here several minutes after 12, listening to news of the first touchdown being scored inside the dome. Every person entering had to be scanned, manually, at the door. I understand the need for that kind of security in this day and age, but it doesn't seem like they have their chops on this, yet.

That said, I was completely awestruck when we finally got  inside. There is an entire football field in this building! The dome seats 66,000 people, and in comparison to all of us, the field seemed almost small.

We had decent seats, pretty close to the field, which was great.

Unfortch, this guy was sitting in front of me, so every time the scrimmage (did I use that term correctly?) was out end, I had to lean around him to keep an eye on the game. Man, what I wouldn't have given for a pair of scissors to clip off that pompom.

Our Bears lost, in the end, but I still loved watching the game in person today. And kudos to Clint who was so patient, when I asked him, about one million times, "what is going on? What is that flag for? What was the penalty for? What are they doing? How many time outs? How long is the break between quarters?" and admittedly, "who has the ball now, Rams or Bears?"

Here we are, feeling sorry for ourselves that our team lost. (And yes, I did buy that shirt especially for today.)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

NaBloPoMo 23: Photo Highlights from Another Fun Saturday

$1650.00. Did not buy.

Chalkboard walls in a coffee shop.

7 artists display their wares in an in-home show.

Christmas Farmer's Market

Cool jeep.

Big salad.

Big hair.

Big meat. 

Up tomorrow: My first pro football game.

NaBloPoMo 22: This & That

Note: I wrote and posted this from the car yesterday, and just realized that it never fully published. I DID write! I did not skip a day! Yet.

I'm traveling tonight, and writing from the passenger's seat. Ain't technology grand.

We just pulled over at a rest stop, and two young women in the ladies room were having a conversation about a boy. One of them said "there were a couple of weird hugs." Her friend asked her "do you mean the hugs themselves were weird, or it was just weird to be hugging him?" I was wondering the same thing, and looking forward to the answer, when the hand dryer went on and drowned out her response.  

It has me thinking about either answer, and the times I've experienced either situation. The first one. The weird hug. Where the huggee keeps their distance, and kind of pats you. Or the worst hug I ever gave, to a very stoic, non-touchy woman I knew, who revealed to me that she'd just had to put her beloved dog to sleep. I knew she wasn't touchy, but really couldn't think of anything else do do but throw my arms around her. She kept her arms to the side, so it was sort of like hugging a tree. How embarrassing, I left feeling like I'd assaulted her.

And then, the "weird to be hugging him (or her)" hug. People whose arms you never dreamed you'd be wrapped in. At funerals, for instance. A hugger at my sister's funeral comes immediately to mind; a woman that usually made no bones about her disdain for me (I know, it's hard to fathom, isn't it?) crossed the room to give me a hug. It was one of those room-stopping hugs where everyone stopped talking to witness such an occassion, and I was left thinking, "well. This is weird." 


I arrived to work one day this week to find this on my keyboard:

Oh boy! A present! What is it, what is it? Who gave it? Yay a present!

Aurgh! Another cat head, a reciprical gift from Nicole, whom I gifted a kitten head in a box a few weeks ago. Oh, I see how it's going to be. Game on. 


We grabbed a salad at Piato today, and I was surprised to see people playing bags in the middle of the mall. That's the whole story, so I'll leave it at that. I rambled on enough about that girl's weird hug, so I'll spare you the bags-in-the-mall speculation.

In fact, I'll spare you any more speculation at all, for now. You have reached the end of this post.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

NaBloPoMo 21: Lunch Ladies

About 6 months ago, a few of us at work started a diet together, and a few days in decided to start taking turns bringing in lunch for the lot. It didn't take long before more joined in, and a lovely "Lunch Ladies" group was born.

Here's how it works:
  • You just kind of pick a day when you're going to cook, and announce it. Try to keep it healthy, please
  • Anyone can play
  •  No one has to.
  •  If you don't have anything to contribute...fine. Sit down and eat with us.
  • Feel free just to bring an ingredient—we'll put it with something else and voila! lunch!
  • If you don't like what's on the table, you're welcome to take yourself out to McDonald's.
I LOVE lunch ladies group. No one is finicky. If the lettuce is starting to turn, we'll pick out the brown stuff and move on with fixing salads. Almost every meal is to die for, even when nothing really matches up. There's a drawer of "Emergency soup" for the days when we discover that no one brought anything.

I like the ritual of sitting down at a table for a meal.I like that if I'm at a meeting that runs through lunch, when I get back to my desk, there's a plate of hot food waiting for me, or a salad in the fridge.
I love that we have all lost weight, and saved money.

I recognized also that this would never, ever have worked with some of the coworkers in my past. There would always have been someone keeping tabs on who bought shrimp and who "only" brought hot dogs, and who skipped a day, and who had too many servings and who never bought salad God, the potential for drama!

But there is no drama. There is just great food, and good food, and sometimes "meh" food—like the jambalaya soup I made this week. It wasn't supposed to be soup, it just turned out...soupy, so I declared it soup.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

NaBloPoMo 20: Keepin' It Together

This time of year is always nuts for me, Thanksgiving is followed shortly after by the Soldier's Christmas Boxes event. It seems a bit crazier this year, as I've mentioned before that we've changed the name and are building a NEW organization called Operation Warrior Watch. We're closing in on finalizing the website at the same time we're rallying for the event.

Web pages must be written. Newspapers must be called. Customs forms have to be ordered. TV stations should be notified. Customs forms have to be filled out! Volunteers must gather. I need flat-rate boxes!

And I still, of course have a "real" job to do--a job I love mind you. And lucky us, a new computer management system is being installed in which weeks of training for most of us is necessary, so we're doubling up there also. No prooooblem.

Just when I think I've got it all under control, I get a couple more wonderful requests: to send beanie babies to children of deployed soldiers at a U.S. Army base, for an upcoming Christmas party. And more beanie babies to a naval company that is helping clean up the aftermath of the typhoon in the Phillipines. Funny, I was wondering what I'd do with all of the leftover beanies, after dismantling Toys for Troops, but the answer came to me.

I knew this crazy-crazy month was coming, though, and I prepared.

I prepared by joining a gym, thus taking about 90 more minutes out of my day.

I prepared by taking a vow to set aside a certain amount of time each day to maintain order. To put away my makeup and hairspray in the morning, so the vanity is clear. To load the dishwasher, when letting dishes sit in the sink until morning sounds great. To washing the makeup off of my face, and moisturizing, before I hit the sack. To staying on top of the pile of mail, and keeping my oil changed, and all of that jazz that is easy to put off.

I wondered, myself, if I wasn't a little crazy to commit myself to "higher standards" when I know, from experience, that this is all-hell-breaks-loose time. But in the end, being busy and having the kitchen tidy(ish) is a lot less stressful than watching the dishes pile up, and not waking up looking like hell from yesterday's makeup is a nicer way to start my day. Don't even get me started on  how much better I feel, physically and  mentally, for having gone to the gym.

So. Keepin It Together, yes.

At the same time, completely mentally prepared to lose my marbles as the day of the event grows closer, and at the same time, stay cool. Dishes will wait. Christmas for 350 Soldier Babies' babies will not.

 And of course, it's always easier with an assistant.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

NaBloPoMo 19: Pool Safety, Then and Now

Back when I was a kid, walking barefoot uphill both ways to school (in the snow of course) , our standard vacation  hotel pool had one sign on it:

"Don't swim without your mama" was the only rule, with the occasional "don't dive here or you'll break your neck" warning. That was it.

Fast forward 45 years, and this is the sign we saw at hotel we stayed at in Niceville Florida this summer:

I posted this sign on Facebook, and noted that we had wondered: Which rule were they inspired to write first, #5 or #6?

And then, last month, although we did not use the pool in Nashville, I did sit poolside for a few minutes, and had to take a picture of this sign:

Not sure how well you can read this photo, so let me help you out with a few highlights;
  • All persons using the pool shall take a cleansing shower bath in the nude, using warm water and soap [...]
  • A bather leaving the pool to use the restroom shall take a second cleansing shower before returning to the pool [...]
  • Any person having an infection or communicable disease shall not use this pool, nor can anyone with exposed sub-epidermal tissue. No cuts or open blisters, and you can't blow your nose in the pool either.
Who in holy hell jumped in the pool with exposed sub-epidermal tissue—what is that, anyway? muscle and bone and guts hanging out?!—that made it necessary to write this down?

And it is dictated that we take showers—naked showers, it says so right there on the sign—before we get in the water, and every time we get out to go pee. I think they should just thank their lucky stars that swimmers even bother to get out of the water to pee, and go ahead and scratch that last, second naked shower rule.

I have half-a-mind to call the manager that posted the second sign: They didn't even mention swallowing diarrhea water.

You know someone's going to sue them for that.

Monday, November 18, 2013

NaBloPoMo 18: Another One of My Favorite Things

I find that most of my favorite things have some sort of story about them, something other than "I saw it and I bought it."

Clint and I stopped into an auction house a year or so ago. There was acres of junk being sold, and in the midst of it all, I spotted this cast iron candle holder.

It really was the only thing I was interested in. Unfortunately, we were just passing through, and the auctioneer was working tables on the other side of the hall. It would be hours before they got to it, and someone would probably outbid me anyway. Forget it!

For kicks, Clint asked me what my top dollar would be. I told him $20, but had already conceded the loss. I told him I was going to go check out the quilts, and then we could take off. I browsed the quilts and was shocked when I walked back just a few minutes later, to find Clint holding my chicken!

It seems I'd only stepped about 10 feet away before the auctioneer's assisant, out of the blue, meandered over and grabbed the chicken for the next sale. Out of all that junk, and on the opposite side of the room, MY chicken was suddenly on the block.

Clint got it for $17.

I would have never gotten my chicken. I wouldn't have kept my eye on the table, or waited it out, or been able to think on my toes enough to get my bid in. Clint is one cool bidder when we're at an auction; I can be standing right next to him and never have any idea he's bidding. It's as if he bids just by suddenly showing more of the whites of his eyes or something, and voila! We have a gorgeous cedar chest!

Or a really cool chicken.

NaBloPoMo 17: Confession Time

I have a confession to make, a secret. People might unfriend me for this, but it's time for me to come clean, and say it:

I don't give a shit how low you wear your pants. 

I don't care where you buckle up: at your knees, or at your nipples, it is of no consequence to me. Because, as I see it, this guy:, neck to toes...covered with fabric. Cotton to linen to denim, I don't see one inch of flesh on the way up until I meet his neck. I recognize that there's a patch of plaid fabric that sends the message, "in here is my butt," but I don't think it's so offensive that we have to kick everyone out of America and start over again.

I don't perceive the outrage over this trend to be any different than the suffragette's showing a little ankle, or Elvis shaking his hips.

I am most concerned that these boys are changing their gait to keep those pants up, thus throwing out their hips, back, and knees. That is cray-cray for sure, but haven't women been doing this in detrimental shoes since the beginning of time? We screw up our arches, lose our toenails, twist and/or break our ankles and end up in a boot for 6 months to a year, for our shoes. Guilty, your honor.

I haven't found a single valid argument against low-rise jeans with fabric in-between. It was in fashion 10 years ago—seriously, it's not going away; how long are we going to bitch about it? My own kid, now in the military, rocked the look in '04, and I have fond memories of going out with his grandmother and gleefully picking out "rubber ducky" boxers for Christmas.

Furthermore, I have no idea how anyone finds this:


more offensive than this:

The coin slot. Twenty-five cents, please. At coffee shops, plugging in their phone chargers, at Walgreens looking for fingernail polish remover on the bottom shelf, how many times must I just look away?!

I just wish that girl had put on some boxer shorts before she left the house.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

NaBloPoMo 16: Fall Cleanup...and Horror Movie Ladybug Video

It was gray today, but thankfully, still warm, as it was "pack up for winter" day, at the Country Casa. Here's all of the furniture, bird feeders, summer lawn ornaments, gardening equipment, tiki torches, and citronella candles, lined up to squeeze into the garden shed until next spring.

Here's another crappy picture of a far-away deer. We love to watch them, even though we see them every day. This doe circled our yard on her own while we were putting things away. Someone forgot to tell her it's deer season, I think, or she wouldn't have made herself so vulnerable, out there in the open.

I've written before about Autumn Ladybugs in this part of the country. Last year they weren't so bad, and I was hoping they'd  moved on forever. To no avail. Here was the scene against the seams in the garden shed this morning.

These stupid bugs get cold and stiffen up, and then come to life when it warms up. They sneak into the house and keel over during the night, then suddenly come to life when when the steam from the shower heats the room up. Some news crew or another reminds us every year that there's nothing we can do about them. Mind you, they aren't this thick in the house, but there always seems to be one that needs to be vacuumed up—after you think you surely must have vacuumed up the last.

Here's the scene from our dustpan this morning:

Bleah. Blech. Puke,

My only saving grace is that we were somehow brought up to think that ladybugs are cute. If this were a pile of spiders...well, there would be no movie, for one thing, and I don't want to think about the rest.

Autumn is still my favorite season, and though winter is around the corner, winter it is not, yet. We put away my chairs today, but there's still a porch swing to sit in.

I'll deal with winter when it gets here. For now...deer and ladybugs.

Friday, November 15, 2013

NaBloPoMo 15: Joined the Gym!

Yes, I did, I joined a gym. Here's a list of my symptoms:

Sore muscles.
Difficulty getting up and down, out of office chair.
First few steps out of bed in the morning slow, my whole body stiff.
Hip pain. Tailbone pain. Shoulder pain. Everything sore.

These are not my post-gym symptoms! Feeling like this every day is what inspired me to get moving, because resting is simply not alleviating the atrophy.

Friend Liz invited me to check out her gym, Planet Fitness. Lo, I love it! The premise of this gym is just that you need to get your butt in there, and moving it around for awhile. And that is about it. The walls read "No criticism" and "No judgment." There are no skimpy gym clothes allowed, and if you do something lunky like drop your weights or grunt or scream, a "Lunk alarm" goes off: an actual siren that indicates someone got a little too Arnold Schwarzeneggery.

I start out at TrueStretch "machine." There's a chart like this on the wall, but I just crawl around in there and make things up—and no one can judge me for it, because the wall says so.

I would love to have one of these at home, but they cost $2400.00. Maybe I'll just show this picture to my Clint and ask him to make one. That man can make anything, I am not kidding.

From there, I do about 40  minutes of gym stuff. I haven't been going long enough to fall into a routine yet. Sometimes I do the 30-minute weight circuit, and I've done bikes and treadmills with Liz when she's there too. Tonight I treated myself to the hydromassage bed after my workout, that was nice.

There are hurdles. Mental hurdles—aren't most hurdles mental hurdles? It is about as far away as you can get from my house and still be in these "twin cities." I'm anticipating my future whining, and preparing my own arguments against myself.

Future Whine: Wah. 20-25 minutes, there, 20-25 minutes home...

Argument to self: If I lived in Chicago it would take me 20 minutes to get to my car on most days. 20 minutes is nothing!

Future Whine: I won't get home until 6:30 or so on the days I work out.

Argument to self: Girl, you don't do anything between 4:30 and 6:00 besides poke your head in the refrigerator anyway.

Future Whine: I don't wanna.

Argument to self: Think about your parents! Clint and I have parents in wheelchairs now, and watching them become increasingly weaker and unable to stand has made me hyper-aware of how much we need to have muscle wrapped around our bones. Bones just cannot stand up by themselves!

In addition, his mother endured a complicated neck surgery, and I was in the room afterward when the Doctor asked her "why didn't you take care of this 15 years ago?" God, we all do that, don't we: Put off going to the doctor, live with the pain, have good days and bad, take a few Advil. The doctor's question to her really resonated with me: We need to take care of ourselves. Now.

I guess I'll get about doing just that. And 20-25 minutes each way isn't bad, and if I need more hours in a day I'll just get up earlier, and I don't care if I don't wanna, I'm gonna.

(I'm pleased to report that the folks are getting stronger with exercise and therapy also. Apparently the stuff—exercise—really works.)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

NaBloPoMo 14: Birch Box

A year or so ago I began subscribing to Birchbox. Once a month a little pink box with another full of cosmetic goodies and other treats arrives in the mail. Many are sample-sized, but there's usually at least one full-sized item in the box, valued at $15-20 or so. An expensive eyeliner or mascara, or a jar of face cream or something.

When you sign up, you get to customized your box by putting in your preferences: your hair/eye color, and your general "look," so that you get items geared to your skin type and color.

Here's today's box. I love this part: What's in there? Is it going to be a great month, or a so-so month? In all honesty, there are some months that are just "meh." But there are jackpot "woohoo!" months that make up for it.

It's always wrapped so prettily--usually  more so than this. Everything is usually tissued and ribboned up.

The big unveil:

Ayres Body Butter. The accompanying literature reads that it has a "heady--dare we say sexy?--scent."
I tried this on, and I don't find the scent sexy. It does make my skin soft, but I don't like the smell at all.  Ok. I'll use it on my feet and cover it up with socks.

A small can of hairspray. Will always use...keep in desk drawer at work, in backpack, or for travel.

Plus, Liz just taught me how to big my hair, and the key ingredient is lots and lots of hairspray. Check out what she did to me in Chicago last weekend:

So hairspray, yes. It's a winner.

Next up; A Fatty Sundays Chocolate Covered Pretzel. The package says "Pretzels," but there is only a singular pretzel in there. One measly little pretzel about 2 inches long. I didn't eat it, I'm on a low-carb diet. I'll save it for an emergency.

Laura Mercier lip gloss. Win.

Blue fingernail polish. I'm not a bold nail polish girl, so these trendy colored bottles are pretty much the one thing I give away, every time I receive them. Blue, no. My hands are too ruddy for blue. I only look more like the zombies in the last post.

That's what came in the mail today. Sometimes I think it's a total waste of money, and I should cancel. 

On the other hand, this is the only monthly subscription, and it's a treat. Mystery and gift wrap, and girly products I like to play with.  A girl can't go around canceling all of her treats, y'know?

The worst thing about it: when you fall in love with something until you see the price of it. Oscar de la Renta Live in Love Body Scrub, for instance. I fell in looooove with this stuff, it smelled so good. $42 for 6 ounces, however, so no thank you. You know, that's $7 an ounce, which when multiplied by 144 ounces, means this stuff costs more than $1000/gallon. For soap.

I'll pass on the $1000 soap, but stick with my $10 treat for awhile longer. And hey, if you're interested, tell 'em I sent you--there are bonus points or something for referring a friend. Maybe they'll knock $100 off of that soap if enough of you sign up.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

NaBloPoMo 13: Nashville Zombies

Here are a few more scenes from our Nashville weekend. We'd just stepped out of the Johnny Cash museum when I noticed a woman across the street with blood on her face and arms, and running down her legs. Actually, I flipped out, saying to Clint "OhmyGOD, what happened to that woman?!!"

But he had already looked ahead to see a few more bloody people, and we realized fast that we'd encountered the tail end of the Nashville Zombie Walk. A far cry from the honky tonks and country singers we were expecting in Nashville, there were zombies, zombies everywhere! Friendly zombies, so happy to pose for the camera.