Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Top Ten Things To Do Before I Head For Disney Tomorrow

1. Lose 25 pounds. Hate it when I get mistaken for the drunk hippos in Fantasia.

2. Check balance on Disney Visa - want to make sure I have enough to get all the latest Disney World doo-dads!

3. Find tickets, confirmations, etc. for hotel, parks, etc. Remember to put in carry on bag. Remember to take carry on bag.

4. Pack clothes. Determine how many Disney World shirts I should pack so that I will still require the purchase of new ones while I'm there.

5. Find camera. Recharge battery. Put camera in carry on bag. Preferably the same carry on bag with the tickets and stuff.

6. Make sure cat has enough food to eat during my absence. He's mad enough that he doesn't get to go - don't want to add fuel to his fire by starving him.

7. Call Disney Dining. Make sure new shipment of Mickey Bars came in on time - to heck with that 25 pounds.

8. Call Disney Photography. Make sure photographers have WIDE ANGLE lens available - drat that 25 pounds!

9. Call Year of A Million Dreams Squad. Inform them I am still waiting for my dream. Tell Lynnette to be on standby, just in case the castle stay comes through.

10. Check calendar - now when is my next Disney trip?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What To Do When You Have Lots To Do

I don't like those junky days when I have too many things that I want to do. Instead of choosing, I tend to sit and play solitaire on the computer. Today was one of those days.

I did manage to get out and crawl two miles, still trying to loosen up the stiffness from Saturday's half marathon. I also wanted to swim at the Y, in another attempt to jumpstart losing poundage off my body. But I also wanted to clean the corner of my bedroom, update my race scrapbook, think about packing for another trip to Disney, and about a million other things on my mental to-do list.

I finally decided to work on my corner. It seemed like that would be the thing that would matter the most and would make me the happiest. So I did and am happier because I can go to bed without having a task stare me in the face.

I guess that's the way we have to make choices sometimes. We have to choose the thing that we know will make our lives more content. It may not be the choice that forever alters our lives, or finally gets the wheels in motion for that next big step, or even gives us a little progress on our current path. It's just the choice that makes our now a little more pleasant, a little more peaceful, and a little more restful.

Monday, April 28, 2008

So The Reason You Have This Office Is ....

I have a precarious relationship with Sprint, the cellular company. Just about the time I have had enough of their stuff, I get sucked into another contract.

Today's mission was fairly benign. I had received notice that Phone #2's contract (a phone the Orlando Sprint office had talked me into because my phone died - their only alternative) had finally expired and I could take it off my plan. Wanting to talk with a real live person, I decided to go directly to the Sprint office.

I arrived at the office to find it remarkably unbusy. A sign on the door told me that the service and parts part of the office would be moving this week, but since I was interested in neither, I went on in. I told Sprint Lady that I wanted to remove Phone 2 from my plan, but wanted to make sure that Phone 3 went to Phone 2's place without a problem.

Sprint Lady said they didn't do that at the office, but gave me the phone number to call to cancel the phone. Okay, so I had a second question. Did they have a heavy-duty senior citizen loud-ringing phone to replace Phone 3, henceforth to be Phone 2, which belongs to 90-year-old GDizzle in Mississippi, who has already been through 3 phones already, still in search of the perfect cell phone. Sprint Lady says the Sanyo Something-or-other is the sturdiest one they have. I ask if they have one in the office, to which she goes over to the display case, says it is no longer there, but I can probably order it online.

Okay, so I have a third and final question. My phone is scratched and beat-up and sad from my repeated unintended abuse. I would like to switch to an old phone that is in the drawer, which is actually Phone 2 from Orlando which became GDizzle's Phone 2 after I had put the number on hold, which replaced his Phone 1 that went through the washing machine but got fired because it didn't ring loud enough and was replaced by GDizzle's Phone 3. Guess what. They don't do that in the store, but when I call to take Phone 2/2/retired phone off the plan, they can switch my current phone to that one. Whichever number it is.

So, in short, I made a trip to the Sprint store for three reasons but for no reason at all. Go figure. The good news is that GDizzle's plan is up in September and mine is up in October.

I think we can make it, if we can just keep all the phones out of the washing machine!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Country Music Marathon - The Aftermath

Memories from the weekend:

*The final two walkers as I was wogging back up Belmont Boulevard. They were being tailed by a police car and clean-up crew. It did not deter them from the route nor make them feel rushed,and they continued at their own pace. I don't know if they finished or not, but I admire their tenacity and ability not to be pressured by outside forces.

*The family who was so happy when I gave them their sister's registration (illegally). What was better - making their day or following the registration rules? I'll choose people any day.

*All the runners/walkers with whom I talked to along the way. Some encouraged me, some asked me how I was doing, and some just chatted, but it's a blessing to be considered one of their peers. My homies at my end of a race are the best!

*The porta-potty that was there when I needed it. After several races and two 3-day walks, I have learned to embrace the invention that is known as the porta-potty. Now if I could cure myself of that compulsion I have to look in the business end of the facility! (I know, TMI!)

*Every smiling volunteer along the way. If you have never volunteered for a race, do it. Even if you're a fancy-schmancy fast runner, you should volunteer in some capacity. You will never view a race in the same way.

*The drive to finish. Thank you, mind and body. As much as I considered quitting, you kept me going to the end. I will try to do better by you next time (in Cleveland in a few weeks).

*The first-timers who were so excited and terrified when they received their race numbers at registration. I hope they finished, but they are all athletes in my book because they dared to believe they could do it.

Everyone chooses to do these races for their own reasons. Some because they want to win, either the whole thing or just in a particular category. Some do them because they are raising money for a cause. Some do them because a friend or family is doing it with them. Some do it because it seemed like a good idea once upon a time.

I do it because of all that I get from the entire experience. I get to see people from all walks of life, at all ages and stages of life, and in all shapes and sizes of life. But in the end, we're all going for the same goal - that finish line and the medal that says we did it. We all help each other along the way and we're family. For those few hours, it's a great world in which to live.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Country Music Marathon Weekend - Day 3

Well, I did it. It was not pretty nor fast, but it got done. I completed the Country Music Half Marathon. Having not done this particular half in four years, I had forgotten all the "rolling hills" that were in Nashville. Around Mile 4, my thighs turned to jelly. Around Mile 9, my GI system decided to revolt. By Mile 11, my feet were screaming in pain, and every time I decided to jog a bit, my stomach reminded me that all was not well. But I persevered, and finished the 13.1.

The day started with rain, but stopped just before I crossed the start line (49 minutes after the first runners, thanks to the wave start). While waiting for our turn, I got to talk with Bonnie, a Nashvillian running her first half. Along the way, I saw a few people I knew, and got to see many people stories. The last half-mile I trudged with Bike Lady (named because she said she would stick to biking after this), who was in a lot of pain, but finished strong.

It was a good day, and reinforced my reasons for continuing to do half-marathons. I enjoy the bling, I keep hoping for better race times, but most of all, because I get to experience the lives of people that I would otherwise never encounter. For every ache and pain I have, there are countless human stories that I saw today. The physical discomforts will fade, but the memories I made today will be with me forever.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Country Music Marathon Weekend - Day 2

Today's agenda was supposed to be full. I was scheduled to work registration during the first shift (9:15-3:00) and then pass out refreshments at the kid's marathon (4:00-8:00). Too bad it didn't exactly work out that way.

Molly had also volunteered to work registration with me. After picking up her car at the service department, we met at LP Field to catch the shuttle. We arrived at the expo, Molly listened to the instructions, and we chose our tables.

Today we chose the last two tables, those runners with numbers in the 31000-32999. The stories even got better at this end. Here the runners were in all shapes and sizes. Most had never run a race before, much less a half marathon. One admitted she was a heavy smoker. Many were mother/daughter teams or a group of women forming their own team. I registered people from Canada, Alaska, Montana, and California, to name a few faraway places. Many of the people who came to our table obviously wanted to change corrals - after all these were the last two corrals!!

We had fun listening to their stories and meeting them. Molly was going to have to leave at 2:30 to get a break before her shift at Sonic. Luckily, her replacement showed up a little after 2:00. At 3:00, I kept waiting for mine to show, but no luck. Around 3:30, a runner came to my table and said that there was no one at Table 24 and a long line of runners. Since my position was quiet, I told Nancy, Molly's replacement, to watch my table while I ran down to 24. I never returned.

Apparently Position#24 looked at her watch, said that she was supposed to leave at 3:00 and skated out the door. I took over 24 and then Position #23 said she had to go to work, so I told her to go. Now I was working two tables, and rush hour started. Kind Paid Marathon Worker Woman came over and inquired as to my status - namely that I was a morning worker working on no break or lunch, but I would stay on if needed. Around 4, she sent me to each the remains of the pizza (yum yum to me at this point). I returned and stayed until 5;15, when Replacement Lady and Her Son showed up and I was free to leave. Supposedly to my refreshment-giving-out position at the kids' marathon.

Now it really gets fun. I go outside to wait for the shuttle back to LP Field (where the kid's marathon is) and my car. I wait for awhile, but no shuttle. I pull out my instruction page where it says that the last shuttle leaves at 4;30, which was 50 minutes ago. So, I consider my options. #1 - hail a taxi, but is seemed silly since I could see the field and possibly walk if needed (I can also see the moon - but do I think I can walk there?), and #2 - call a family member, which would be difficult since Sam is in Georgia, Molly is at Sonic, Steve is on the golf course, Maribeth is probably watching Oprah, and Lynnette should be writing papers. Also, downtown Nashville traffic has come to a standstill, an occurrence with which Nashville cannot deal, so if any family member could pick me up, it would probably not happen until next week.

So, I decide to walk. In flip flops. Which are too stretched out to efficiently stay on my foot. Nevertheless, I start out. I have no idea of the exact mileage, but I can say that it was more than I would have chosen to do in overstretched flip flops on the eve of a half-marathon. I walk four blocks one way, turn and walk four more blocks to the river, where I can see the bridge I intend to cross. I head for the bridge, only to find that unless I want to scale up the truss holding up the bridge, I need to backtrack to another street over. I take off the offending flip flops and walk barefoot for awhile, only to re-flip-flop as I finally cross the bridge, with cars zooming past me in an attempt to either blow me off the bridge or get home in time for Oprah reruns.

Finally, I get within five feet of my car, when, guess what I see? You guessed it - a shuttle for the volunteer workers at the expo. I guess since I didn't have the instruction sheet for the second shift, I didn't know about the second shift shuttles. Whatever.

By this time, I was tired and decided to blow of the kiddies and their snacks. They'll be with their mommies and daddies - let them feed em'! Meanwhile, I shall be checking my feet for flip-flop burn and questioning my sanity. 13.1 - here I come!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Country Music Marathon Weekend - Day 1

One of the best things about the Country Music Marathon is when I volunteer. In previous years, I've passed out goodie bags, held out cups of water for thirsty runners, cut off timing chips at the end of the race, wrapped mylar blankets around finishers, placed medals around the necks for the kid's marathon, and set up barriers, but I think my favorite is manning the registration table.

In this volunteer position, I take the runner's registration paper, look at their photo id, hand them their bib number and information packet, and direct them to the next destination in the registration process. The registration tables are divided by the 1000s (this year there were 30 tables). I always choose a high-numbered table - this year I am assisting the 28000-28999 numbered runners.

I always choose the higher numbered tables because (1) these are my running peeps (this year I am number 27thousand-something) and (2) these runners have the best stories and attitudes. While at my post today, I met a neighbor down my street (same thing happened to me last year with a different neighbor - either I'm not a friendly neighbor or the entire street is afraid to get out of the house). I met a lot of people from New York running with Team in Training (tried to help them through the culture shock of being in the south). I met many people running their first half-marathon and other people who wanted to move up a corral because they have become faster runners during their training. I registered local news anchor Jennifer Krause who was very nice, and grumpy local sports news dude Big Joe on the Go. I even talked to a group that's going to do the half-marathon with hula hoops!

Most of the runners who come to my table are excited, nervous, and maybe a little scared. Many don't know what to expect come Saturday. But they're all committed to completing 13.1 miles for their own personal reasons. Their stories are the ones that are the true heart of a race for me because they're not running for a time - they are running for themselves, to prove that they can do it.

On Saturday, when those runners cross the finish line and that medal is placed around their necks, they will know the absolute joy that comes with completing a goal one never imagined possible. They will become half-marathoners and will be forever changed for the experience.

I'm just thankful to be a small part of their stories.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I Love This

This gives new meaning to, "Can't We All Just Get Along?"

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sixty-Five Pounds

That's the weight I want to lose. According to the doctor's scales yesterday, losing this amount of weight would put me at a goal weight I haven't seen in many moons. Is it possible? Yes. In the past few years, I lost sixty pounds, only to gain 25 of it back. So, technically, if I meet this goal, I will have lost 125 pounds altogether.

I would like to lose this by tomorrow, but since I'm not giving birth, I don't think it will happen that quickly. Instead, I am shooting for my 2009 doctor's checkup, which is a sensible and doable timeline. I'm going to do this on a healthy diet and more exercise. I know it's a radical weight loss theory, but I'm determined to make it work.

I've added a goal chart to the right to help encourage and inspire me. As I meet each goal, I'm going to celebrate and hope you will join me. It's a big mountain to climb, but I can do it - it just takes one step and one pound at the time.

See you at the top!

Monday, April 21, 2008

One Step

Today I had some business in the medical center. I parked on the street, using a parking meter. When I left, I had 45 minutes left on the meter, so I offered it to the lady who was parking in the spot behind me. She thanked me, and we each went on our way.

It was just a simple thing, bothering to approach a stranger with an offer of help. I could have gotten in my car and pulled away, leaving her to figure it out for herself, but instead I chose to take the first step.

All it takes is one step to try and make this world a little better. One step toward a stranger with an offer of help, of encouragement, of understanding. One step to connect with a stranger in a positive way.

Today it was 45 minutes on a parking meter. I can't wait to see what it will be tomorrow.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

An Ode to the Weekend

The weekend came, The weekend went;
My time and energy have all been spent.

I partied and ate and had some fun;
I guess my weekend is all but done.

Tomorrow I'll start my week anew,
But to this busy weekend, I'll bid adieu.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

What a Weekend

A wedding brunch, wedding ceremony, and wedding reception, all for the daughter of my sister's best friend from college. I tagged along as Marilyn's date, and these festivities took up most of our day today. With what time was left, we experienced Earth Day in the rain and fed Cool People Care, shopped at Wal Mart and drank at Sonic, and ate sandwiches at Which Wich and burgers at McDonald's.

I don't think this is the proper way to taper for a half-marathon, but who knows? Maybe by this time next week, I'll have a new PR!!

Friday, April 18, 2008

A Busy Day

Today there were many things to do. Eating, shopping, pedicuring, moving treadmills, exercising, and visiting workplaces were just a few of today's accomplishments. The best part was that they all involved family. What a great way to spend a busy day.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

What's Your Day About?

Today started off with me thinking, "I've been trying to eat healthy for a week. Certainly I've lost five pounds." I get on the scales, then quickly off as I realize I've actually gained a pound.

Next I wash sheets and hang them on my newly installed clothesline in the sun room. Apparently it was too much for the hook in the wall, which promptly pulled out of the wall, dumping my clean sheets on the floor.

I decide to take Maribeth's car in for emissions testing, since her tag is due and I want to use her car for a trip to Home Depot. Her car fails the test - twice. Not only can the emission computer not communicate with the car computer, but her gas cap is faulty.

I drive to the car dealership service department without an appointment, and talk to Kevin and tell him to keep the car until it is fixed. I get home in time to shower and get to my mammogram appointment, but I forgot exactly where the place is, so I end up taking the most circuitous route imaginable. Just about the time I think I am going to be late, the building appears, and God provides me a parking place right in front.

From there, the day turns and I meet lots of nice people in the clinic, Kevin calls to say the car is fixed with not an overly expensive repair, I assemble and install my new birdbath/fountain, I get some of the house picked up and cleaned, Sam and Stephen are on tv, and Marilyn arrives early from Baltimore.

I wonder how many days start out seemingly disastrous, only to become rewarding later on in the day. Had I let the events of the morning cloud my day, I would have missed the gifts that were waiting for me.

The good stuff is there - we just have to believe it's waiting for us to find it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Stories along the Road

Today I was out on the roads running errands and walking miles. These were some of my experiences and observations along the path:

*At a 4-way stop, I looked around and every car at the stop was a Toyota. Besides my Camry, there were 3 Toyota SUVs. It was almost like we were in a cartoon, and all the Toyotas called each other and said, "3pm at the 4-way. See you then!"

*A short way down the road, two men were in their front yard, intently looking east, causing me to look in the same direction. I don't know what they were looking for or waiting on, but I wanted to stop and say, "Whatchall' looking at?"

*While I was out walking, a teenage boy was practicing riding his unicycle. He was pretty good, and at one point when he slipped off, I had a chance to commend him on his skill.

*Two men were out surveying property. As I walked past, one initiated a conversation with me about the beautiful weather. It was a nice moment between strangers.

*A group of bike-riders zoomed past. These were not the Lance Armstrong variety, but just a group of Regular Joe riders of varying shapes and sizes. They were chatting and enjoying their ride and not worrying about whether they were Lance types.

There's always something to see and learn, if you just look around. Everybody has a story - I wonder who was watching mine!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Brain Training

My goal of running a half-marathon every month doesn't leave much time for real training (at least that's my story). Either I'm recovering from the last one or tapering for the next one. It's been hard to get those long runs in. But I know I've got to do it.

Today I dragged myself out for 8 miles. This route has been a usual one, but one that I've gotten away from. I knew I had to get back to it, so today I did, albeit v-e-r-y ---- s-l-o-w-l-y.

Today really wasn't about physical training. Today I had to get my brain back on track. If I can get back to thinking of an 8-mile route as routine, then 13.1 miles doesn't seem so bad. When I get back to feeling that 8 miles is just another training day, then those half-marathon days aren't so daunting.

I still need to get faster and more physically fit. Those wogging days are important training days. But today was about getting my brain back to half-marathoning and expanding my concept of routine mileage.

Another half-marathon life lesson - we can do whatever we choose to do - we just have to train our brains to believe we can do it. All we have to do is keep increasing our limits of what we believe is doable.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Tool of the Day - Tin Snips

I am now the proud owner of a pair of tin snips. I could have chosen the right or left snips, but I chose the straight snips. The Home Depot man didn't seem to have a preference, so I figured just go down the middle.

I needed the tin snips for a years-forever-long home project. When we finished the upstairs many moons ago, we closed off part for the attic for storage. Unfortunately, just inside the door was the tin spout for the downstairs oven vent. It has always been a pain because anytime you want to take out a box of stuff from the attic, you have to heave it over this vent that sticks out about a foot from the floor.

After we remodeled the kitchen and put in a different vent, I knew I could get rid of this impediment. For the past several years I have made attempts with various tools. Today I got my tin snips, cut and cut and cut tin (and my finger), and finally accomplished my goal. I now have a flat floor to shove boxes in and out.

This all goes to say that sometimes you have a goal that seems to go on forever. You try and try to accomplish it, but just never quite gets there. Then one day, you get just want you need to proceed, and with hard work and the right equipment, the job gets done. The results are even better than you hoped, and life is good.

You just have to keep going until it all comes together.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Tiger, Trevor, and Me

This afternoon as I watched the Masters Golf Tournament, I wanted Tiger Woods to win. Although he didn't have a great tournament, he finished his round in second place. The leader, Trevor Immelman, had two more holes to go. The only way Tiger was going to win was if Trevor really messed up. As much as I wanted Tiger to win, I didn't want him to win just because another player messed up. I wanted Tiger to win because of his superior play. This week, Trevor had superior play, deserved to win, and did.

I think about this because I also have things I want to win. I would love to wake up skinny one day. But it wouldn't last long because all my bad eating habits would still be in play. I would be skinny, but I wouldn't have learned how to stay skinny.

In two weeks, I would like to magically run the Country Music Half Marathon in under two hours. But since I can't seem to break three hours right now, it's not going to happen.

I would like to go to a bookstore tomorrow and buy a book I wrote. But since I have yet to submit any pages to an editor or publisher, I'd better think of something else to do tomorrow.

All of these things are possible, but not in an instant and without time and hard work on my part. But that's part of what makes the victory so sweet - you earned it by working for it.

When I reach my goal weight, I will have celebrated every pound lost along the way and developed healthy eating habits. The closer I get to finishing a half marathon in two hours, I will rejoice in every minute I shave off my time and appreciate every sore muscle it took to get me there. When I see that book on the shelf with my name on it, I will remember the writes and rewrites and edits and cuts that were made along the way.

Trevor Immelman didn't wake up last Sunday and decide to start playing golf and win his first major tournament a week later. He started playing when he was five years old, and today won his first major championship.

I'll let you know when I win mine.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Goal that Got Away

Today dawned sunny, beautiful, and a little chilly for this year's Purity's Moosic City 5K. Sam and his friend, Zack (who ran the 10k), finished well ahead of Lynnette and me. They waited for us and we finished the morning at Starbucks.

While we had done this race a before, today's course was a little different. We went on a trail high above the river. The winds were quite gusty, probably preventing us from a new personal record (at least that's my story).

As Lynnette and I were finally turning the corner for the final stretch, a man was standing there encouraging the runners. Actually, he was yelling for everyone to keep running (or in our case, to start running), and to catch up with somebody ahead. These words seemed to inspire us, so we picked up the pace. A few feet ahead of us was a guy with an American flag design on his shirt. Lynnette said to me, "Our goal is to catch up with him." We did quite well, until we were almost at his heels, when he decided to do the same thing, and pretty much left us behind. Lynnette's response was, "Okay, so we make a new goal." We kept running and finished.

Sometimes our goals don't quite work out the way we planned. The important thing is to make a new goal and keep going. After all, maybe the goals that get away aren't really supposed to be our goals anyway.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday Update

It rained buckets today, so I thought I would update you on how the weather has affected recent events:

Mat the Snake(s) - no sightings. Hoping he/they can't swim, and have sought higher ground. Preferably in the Swiss Alps.

Rain Barrel - full and overflowing like crazy. Would get another rain barrel, but then it would probably quit raining. For years.

Hoe for home defense - haven't made it to Home Depot yet. Had to go buy new suitcase at once-a-year suitcase sale. Just in case it's Mat or me, I want to be prepared for finding new home.

Tomorrow's weather is supposed to be better. Too bad, since I have a 5K scheduled in the morning!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I Support Capital Punishment

For snakes anyway. Today as I was out for my walk, guess who I saw in my mulch? Mat the Snake. At least I think it was him. He looked like Mat the Snake, although he appeared to have a shorter body. Could this be Mat the Snake Jr.? This is not comforting news to me. I do not know the sex lives of snakes or their reproductive capabilities, nor do I wish to know. I do not want snakes in my yard, period.

So, being a fan of Law and Order, I have put Mat the Snake on trial, have judged and sentenced him. I have convicted him of unlawful trespassing and poaching, and attempted murder (of me either by his poisonous bite or the heart attack that will result when he surprises me as I am planting pretty flowers).

I realize he may be doing good by eating bugs or something like that. However, he is doing nothing about the moles that continue to wreak havoc on my yard. I also am planning to plant in his current subdivision of my yard and am not interested in his opinion of my plant choice. I'm not even sure if he can differentiate between my hand and a mouse that he might choose to eat. He probably has issues, and I don't know if he's seen a therapist. Maybe he hates people.

At any rate, I have decided that he needs to go. Since he is bold enough to come out in the sun, I think he is too bold to live at my house. I am going to Home Depot for a hoe. If his neck happens to get in the way of my hoeing my yard, then he has a death wish, and it's not my fault. He looks kinda suicidal, now that I think of it.

At my trial, I shall be pleading self-defense. Please be sure and tell Jack McCoy. Hopefully he hates snakes, too.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I'm Sorry - I Didn't Catch Your Name

Today is Name Yourself Day. Unfortunately, I didn't find out about it until tonight, so I will not be able to celebrate it as elaborately as I would have. Instead, I shall list my Top Ten Name Choices had I named myself today.

1. Margaret. I always thought I would be a good Margaret. I don't know why, but it seemed like a good, solid name.

2. Dixie Magnolia. In deference to my birth state, Mississippi.

3. Trump Gates. Just in case I could be related and cash in on the family money.

4. Tiffani Sunshine. I just think that would be an interesting name for a 50-year-old.

5. Princess Disney Beauty Wonder Enchanted. Maybe I would get a golden fast pass.

6. Bob. Simple, to the point, non-judgmental.

7. Hey You. Make it easy on everyone else.

8. Chesty Leather Rock. In case I need to moonlight as a "dancer".

9. Bulldog Badass (according to Pro Wrestling Name Generator)

10. Luanne. Like I would remember my new name, anyway.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Mat the Snake

This is Mat the snake. I met him today as I was going out for a walk. Since I first heard of his existence in the laurel bushes in my front yard, I have been on the lookout for him. Today I saw him, and he even managed to hang around long enough for me to get a picture. However, he did not hang around long enough for Maribeth to bring around a mop and dustpan to relocate him!

His name is Mat because (a) today is Mathieu P's birthday, and (b) Matt the Landscaper discovered him (but didn't get rid of him). However, just because he has a name does not mean I like him. I don't like him at all. I wish he would go away. To further document my displeasure at his existence, I have written a poem on his behalf (my apologies to Dr. Seuss):

I Do Not Like Mat the Snake

I do not like this snake called Mat
Not even if he wore a hat.
I do not like him round and long,
Not even if he sang a song.
I do not like him in my yard,
Now I have to be on guard.
I do not like him at my house,
I hope he does not have a spouse!
I do not like him - He freaks me out,
I do not like his snakey snout.
His beady eyes I do not like,
I wish he would quickly take a hike.
I do not like this snake one lick
Mat the snake is a dirty trick.
I wish he'd hurry and move away,
And that is all I have to say.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Sticks and Diamond

Today I spent two hours picking up limbs in Molly's yard and placing them where the city chipper could collect them. Some limbs needed sawing, which I did. Others also needed sawing, which I didn't, because I didn't want to saw anymore and I have high hopes that a kind chipper crew will take pity and shove the big limbs into the chipper anyway. The entire job was pretty much a pain, but needed to be done because the chippers were out doing their thing. I managed to add several scratches on my arm to my wounds from yesterday's project, so my own limbs are simply lovely.

To reward myself for today's labor, I decided to sit and watch "The Jazz Singer" starring Neil Diamond. I like this movie (even though most people don't) and I like Neil Diamond and his music, so it was a perfect way to take it easy.

The important thing is to stop and reward yourself from time to time. Maybe it's a movie that nobody else likes, or a CD that nobody else bought, or a culinary delight that nobody else can stomach. What matters is that you like it, and you deserve to enjoy it.

Sometimes we do things because we have to - so why not reward ourselves with things we (and maybe only we) enjoy?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Which Do You Choose?

Are you happy or not on the days where ...

... you feel thinner but you find you've gained a few pounds ... BUT the blister on your baby toe is gone

... you ate WAY too much pizza ... BUT you spent some time with your daughter

... you have band aids all over your hands due to the scratches from the rose bushes ... BUT your yard looks so pretty now

... you didn't get your house cleaned up ... BUT you had a chat with your neighbor

Life is full of dilemmas like these. There are good things and mediocre things and not-so-great things that happen every day. I experienced all of the above today, and at today's end, I can see how it all worked together.

I just have to learn to be patient and wait. And put down that extra piece of pizza!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Waiting for the Next Bright Idea

We did it. Sam and I managed to move 2 couches, 2 love seats, 1 overstuffed chair, a desktop, two small bookcases that hold up the desktop, a pie safe, and about 900 couch pillows, all in two trips - one from his house to mine, and the return to his house. We even managed to do it in a cargo van (mainly because it was either rent it or a 24-foot truck), and we did not have to put any gas back in the van (because we went only about 17 miles).

For Sam and me, today was no big deal. Our furniture-moving adventure was something we wanted to do, so we did it. The only planning we did was to plan to rent a truck. We had to go to two rental places, and ended up with a vehicle that was not in our plan, but we ran with it and it worked out. We had no idea what would fit in the van, but we didn't let that deter us.

One of the great things about my family is our ability to "just do it." Sometimes our adventures work out as planned (or as a great surprise even to us). Sometimes our attempts don't work out as we expected (and honestly figured would happen anyhow). But whether we succeed or not doesn't keep us from going ahead with our next great idea.

I'm very blessed to have a family who is open to new ideas, whether it's launching a new company, or walking the AT, or having a Magic Bullet Christmas. Although sometimes unsettling, you just never know who's going to have the next adventure. We just know we'll all be there for support (or feign ignorance), praise (or constructive criticism), active particpation (or not), and bragging rights (or coverup attempts).

That's my family, and I thank God I'm a part of them!

Friday, April 4, 2008

If It's Spring, It Must Be Furniture Moving Time ......

... at least around the Davidson household, that is. Our family has a habit of trading furniture. Before the kids moved into their own homes, it was about moving furniture around in the house. Like the time we moved a couch upstairs and had to saw the legs off mid-staircase. Or the time I moved a full-sized freezer on top of a pair of skates. Or the fruit-basket-room-turnover where every bedroom eventually became somebody else's.

Tomorrow Sam is coming over and we're trading couches and he's taking a desk (and hopefully some other stuff). Meanwhile, a few days ago, I took a shelf, mini-fridge, and coffee table from Molly's house. I'm not sure what I'll do with them, but I took them anyway.

It's not that we have fancy furniture. Most of it is stuff that has been in my family for years (think OLD, not antique). The newer stuff isn't that great either - it's just newer. We just feel like a change, so we pass the furniture around. After all, it's just stuff.

So, tomorrow the physical surroundings of our homes will change a little. My office will have a new/old desk, my living room with have new/old couches, and who knows what else will have whatever.

It's just part of what makes us a family. A family that moves stuff around and laughs about it later. A family whose furniture really has stories - of where its been and how it got there. A family who knows it's not about the stuff, but about the memories we create around the stuff. A family who knows it's not the furniture that makes it home, but the people. A family like ours.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Our New Home Addition

Last year, I had every intent of getting a rain barrel. I didn't want to work hard at it - I just wanted to get the darn thing and have it set up and ready. I had heard all about getting them free, or for a reduced price, etc., which kept me from action - too many decisions and choices.

A few weeks ago, I decided with spring here, it was time to act. So I ordered my barrel (no price shopping - just one of the first ones that came up on Google). It was delivered a few days ago, and here is my simple step-by-step process of becoming a little greener.

Step 1: Notice that there was a HUGE box on my front porch. I didn't, but Steve did and mentioned it. The mentioning pretty much summed up his participation in this project.

Step 2: Bring in HUGE box from front porch, and place in den, next to pool table, away from gas heater - rain barrel will be no help in putting out fire unless there is actual rain in barrel, which cannot be accomplish if rain barrel melts.

Step 3: Take HUGE rain barrel from HUGE box - wonder if this was right size, since I didn't remember Sam's being this big. Let barrel sit for awhile, away from gas heater (note: barrel is plastic - I think it was used to transport pickles or something.)

Step 4: Email Sam telling him of rain barrel delivery, and asking him to come over and help set it up. Try to get top off barrel, to no success. Wonder if top is supposed to come off. Wonder if there are directions anywhere. Look in box, but only packing slip is in there. Wonder how I am supposed to get water out when barrel has water. Look at various holes in side of barrel, wonder what they are for.

Step 5: Check email - no reply. Go get a snack.

Step 6: Check email again - no reply from Sam, so I decided to forge ahead. Keep trying to get top off barrel. Remember all the times I tried to get tops off things, and succeeded, only to discover that top was not supposed to come off. Miraculously, top begins to screw off, as it was designed to do.

Step 7: Peer inside barrel to discover plastic bag containing spigot and plastic cap and (hallelujah!) instructions.

Step 8: Scan instructions (since I rarely read them). See a diagram on how to install spigots. As it turns out, you have a choice of two openings to put spigot, depending on whether to put the barrel on ground level or elevate it. I hate decisions. After carefully pondering, I put cap in bottom hole, and spigot in hole slightly higher up.

Step 9: Take barrel outside to designated rain barrel position (where downspout is that floods the concrete slab). Begin monotonous gutter renovation.

Step 10: Take off bottom bendy part.

Step 11: Study how to take off long straight part - need screwdriver, which entails trip back inside.

Step 12: Unscrew long part - put aside.

Step 13: Put on bendy plastic part - decide to screw in to metal part for security. Requires new holes and another trip back inside to get drill.

Step 14: Drill and screw in plastic bendy part. Decide more metal gutter needs to come off, so unscrew, take off, drill, rescrew.

Step 15: Bend and fold and twist plastic bendy part to divert rain to top of rain barrel.

Step 16: After much consideration, decide to switch spigot and plastic cap - decide spigot needs to be on bottom-most hole to get all rain out. Both components are screwed in pretty good, so another trip back inside to get pliar tool thing to loosen.

Step 17: Unscrew, rescrew, adjust plastic bendy gutter thing.

Step 18: Decide barrel should be on blocks so I can get a pitcher under spout. More moving, positioning barrel, bending, twisting plastic bendy, until it appears all is well. Very excited, because much rain is predicted.

Step 19: Wait for rain - am not disappointed. During a break in rain, I decide to go out and check on barrel (I have issues). Notice all rain is pouring over top. I loosen lid on barrel, and rain begins to flow inside.

Step 20: A few hours later, I decide to check on barrel again, expecting to jiggle barrel to hear a few inches of rain. Barrel is so full, it is overflowing. The instructions say in this case, to connect the long gutter back, but the end of plastic bendy thing is too big, so this is not feasible. So, rain just continues to splash all over concrete slab.

So, in conclusion, I have my rain barrel. It is now full. I do not need it to water the outside plants, because it has been raining a whole bunch. I will go out and get some to water the indoor plants.

I just don't know what to do with tomorrow's rain!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Just What I Need

A Cat IQ test. Shaggy the Cat scored 18, but only because none of the answers really fit so I had to choose the answer that was least incorrect. I would have involved him personally in the test, but he's still protesting the food I put down for him to eat. He was also protesting it this morning at 4:30 am.

He did much better on the Cat Psychological Test.

Oh well, I'll just close with my favorite Cat Haiku (possibly written by Shaggy the Cat):
Wanna go outside.
Oh, shit! Help! I got outside!
Let me back inside!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

All It Takes Is One Card

One of my favorite games on my computer is Solitaire. I play it when I'm waiting for something to load, or just have an extra few minutes.

Today I was playing a round, and it looked as if it were going to be a quick game. None of the exposed cards were playable, nor were any of the cards I was turning over. I figured the game was over - until I turned over the last three. The next card was playable, and it caused another card to be playable. As I continued to draw cards, it seemed that the game continued, playable card by playable card. Just when I thought the game was over, it continued - all it took was one card.

I will need to think about this when a project or a goal seems doomed. Just when I think something won't happen or I can't achieve what I want, I will remember that all it takes is one action to continue and make progress. One action may result only in one more action, but it is forward motion. As long as a play to be made, there's still hope for anything to be accomplished.

I just have to keep turning the cards.