Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Back on the first Sunday in May I was given the scary, but tremendous opportunity to preach on Women's Sunday at my church. I know several of you regular posters were in attendance and I appreciated that support.
The church's website manager (my dad) has posted my sermon on-line. He even included the power point images within the text. The sermon is written for my ease as the reader, so there are some weird styles and colors. I did that so that I could find my place quickly after looking up at the audience.

Of course, neither service came off exactly the same. I think I may have even skipped a whole paragraph in the second service - even with all my eye catching styles. I have included the link below.

I wonder if it is Google-able? I'm going to try it.
I was spying on my readers recently on my StatCounter feature and saw that someone found my blog via a Google search for Mammo Wipes. It was on the 4th page of the search findings, but there it was. Cool, huh?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

This week I am in recovery mode from two back to back weekends of reckless, recreational eating and drinking. I dieted great at breakfast and clear through 'til lunch, when I couldn't resist the waffle fries at Chik-fil-A. darn.

Swimsuit season is a bad combo with delicous cookouts. It would help if my friends weren't such good cooks: mango salsa, champagne punch, spice cake with cream cheese frosting, green bean casserole, peanutbutter cookies, vidalia onion burgers loaded with cheese. I was defenseless.

Aside from exercising more and eating less, do you guys have any strategies for not gaining 5 pounds every weekend this summer?

Monday, May 29, 2006

Today at my Memorial Day cookout I watched my friend’s charming two year old niece interacting with a heart-melting puppy. They were both adorable. Neither were trained. The baby Staffordshire Bull Terrier instinctively wanted to nip and bite. The toddler instinctively wanted to pick the puppy up and pull his tail. It was an amusing, but potentially dangerous combination. Neither could be left unattended with the other. Both were bound to be impulsive and harmful. A thirteen year old boy at the party recklessly lunged at the dog bringing out the dog’s innate fighter. The dog’s owner had to put the puppy back in his portable kennel.

Before my cookout, I bid farewell to my neighbor’s relatives who were also in town for the “Rolling Thunder” Memorial Day parade. Their bikes were stunningly painted with a picture of a soldier and a marine who were painted in halves: one half portrayed the man in his dress uniform, the other was bloody and dismembered in the gore of battle. If I had lived through a battle where I saw those scenes, I don’t think life could continue in the same way ever again. Obviously it can’t.

I was thinking about how the children and the puppy unintentionally and ignorantly escalated each other into biting and pulling. When will we as human beings be trained? When will we ever be old enough to know to treat the dog with respect? When will we know not to bite the inexperienced? Will be always have the impulse to fight? How long before we ever get it right? I wish we never had to send another person into war. I wish for world peace.

Nickleback, that headbanger music I was listening to during bike week, has a song called “If Everyone Cared.” The chorus asks

If everyone cared and nobody cried
If everyone loved and nobody lied
If everyone shared and swallowed their pride
Would we see the day when nobody died?

Are those “ifs” too big? Is world peace too much to dream about?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

I'm becoming a regular biker chick. Today I joined hundreds of thousands of biker and veterans on Constitution Avenue for the "Ride to the Wall." The day is called "Rolling Thunder" for good reason. I wore the ear plugs going in, but not going home. My ears still haven't recovered yet.

What a crowd! I took lots of pictures of the bikers in the parade, but I couldn't help taking some of the crowd. Fabulous place for people watching.

My friend who I rode with picked up a new passenger helmet and had already put stickers on it. I was wondering if he picked out the stickers with me in mind. They said...
"A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory"
"When I was youn I used to Skinny-dip. Now I chunky dunk!"
"Don't make me get my flying monkeys!"
"I'm not weird, I'm gifted"
"Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most!"
"Politically Incorrect & Morally Impaired"
"Bike Troll"

hhmmm. What is he saying about me?

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Today I was a spokeswoman for my sister's Art Education float in the city's Memorial Day parade. My youngest painted pictures on an easel in the back of a pick up truck for the town to see. She was in her moment of glory! My older daughter helped me work the crowd, drumming up business for my sister's company. The candidate for state comptroller who was in the car behind us was impressed with my skills with the crowd. He offered me a job in his campaign. I told him I didn't know. I could get behind art lessons for kids, I didn't really even know what a comptroller did. Something with money I think. So I could be Campaign Girl, but I bet he wants my services on a volunteer basis. I'll pass.

Friday, May 26, 2006

I was walking this morning with Anne and she was talking about this project management class she was taking. She was explaining formulas for productivity and time management of projects. I tried to follow along and knew deep inside me that I was glad I had decided to forgo franchising. I do not have the mind of a business woman.

Here's my newest scheme. I am going to hire myself out to write people's personal essays based on interviews with them. My first customer is my friend Evelyn. For her 75th birthday, I wrote her essay as a gift - and as advertisement. Tonight I am hosting a surprise birthday party for her and expect more people than will comfortably fit in my house. I have my fingers crossed that the rain will hold off. So I'm hoping to get my next assignment based on word of mouth. Many of her Senior Chorale buddies will be in attendance.

I'm not sure what CG I can make out of this: Collector of Gems?

My essay about Evelyn is over 3500 words. Rather than include the whole story, I am sharing an excerpt. Maude is Evelyn's mother. You will see that Evelyn enjoyed her share of youthful shenanigans.

Maude wasn’t the only woman in town popping popcorn, but hers was the only popcorn the older children dared to eat. There was a woman who had a small house on the edge of the four block business district, not far from the courthouse, who had another source of income in the evenings. Although details were never discussed, the town knew what services were offered there after dark. In the days before television and in times when the only entertainment was what you could find to do for free, the teenagers in the town found a way to pass some of the slow summer evenings.

There was nothing remarkable about the appearance of this business woman. She was thin and haggard looking. No one could afford or even had access to make up. She had no family in town and did not participate in the town’s community events in any official capacity. However, everyone knew her business signals. When she was open for business, she propped a broom against her porch. If a customer entered, he would turn that broom so the head faced up. It seems sometimes that the signal got crossed.

Evelyn was a good girl, so she never touched that broom. She did watch with other young teenagers a block or so away as one daring mischief maker would sneak up and turn that broom back down. Then they would watch until another customer entered. Even though everyone knew who patronized this woman, no one like to be caught with their hand in the cookie jar. When the signals were crossed, two men would flee the house in opposite directions, hoping they hadn’t been identified. Through their eyes squinting with laughter, Evelyn and her friends identified the various men of their town. They later found that these men were the most generous when collecting pledge money for various school fundraisers. The only prompt needed was a mention of a broom handle.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

I promised a story about the Biker Burnout Bar.

When I was Construction Girl, I learned that Construction Boys like to talk about their tools: why theirs are better than everybody else’s, how much better they are at using them. Biker Dudes are the same way about their bikes. They love to talk about how powerful their engines are and how great they can drive. They love the technical terms with the double meanings, which leads me to the name of the Biker Burnout Bar that I visited in Myrtle Beach.

SB&B stands for Suck, Bang & Blow, which refers to one of Bike Week’s favorite pastimes. At this large recreational facility, bikers have a few locations to mount their bikes and spin their tires until they explode. The engines suck in a lot of air, the engine bangs until the tire blows. Fun huh?

One of the Biker Dudes in my party said, “Do you know how much those tires cost?” So I’m thinking the bikers blowing their tires were either
a. riding on tires that needed replaced anyway
b. rich urban bikers or
c. too drunk to make solid financial decisions

I was not informed of the technical meaning of the bar’s name when I arrived. I knew it was a biker bar and I was trying to blend in. I was wearing jean capris and black sandals, which by the way, are not ideal for riding. My black sleeveless t-shirt had a Grateful Dead skeleton riding a motorcycle. I thought I might not look too suburban since I was riding in on Uncle Johnny’s Harley.

The traffic lined up down the street to get into the parking lot. The roar of engines coming in combined with the bikers burning out was deafening. We parked in an ocean of chrome and fiberglass and I hoped I looked more confident than I felt. Peggy, who was dismounting a few rows over “pssted” my attention and nodded in the direction of a young woman also dismounting in our quadrant of the motorcycle sea. Here was something you don’t see every day.

This Biker Chick was wearing leather riding chaps – and not much else: a thong and bra. I bet she was chilly riding in. I made a mental note not to sit down in this joint. Judging from the firmness of her ass I would say she had not yet become a mother. I suddenly felt like a prude in a turtleneck. Boy have I lived a sheltered life. I knew my feminist sensibilities were somewhere inside me gasping for breath, but my curiosity kept her tucked away – that and I didn’t want to piss off my ride home.

We gathered and entered this warehouse that claimed to be the biggest biker bar everywhere. Biker Chick was there for work. Apparently this employer didn’t want to waste money on uniforms for their waitresses. The menu and the uniform might have been indicative of their IQ’s since they only served 4 choices of domestic beer and peanuts. That was it. I don’t think any of the patrons were there to discuss philosophy anyway. I shouldn’t assume their IQ’s were low. Maybe they were smart because I bet they made quite a bit of cash.

Although several mini bars were available, there was a crowd gathered tightly around one. Men were holding their cameras above their heads to get pictures of a man who must have been misbehaving. The waitress was making an example of him. He was on all fours on the bar and she, in her work uniform, was spanking him with a riding crop. I can’t imagine his offense, but I was going to try not to commit any such violations.

We listened to a band called “Highway to Hell,” who did not seem at all concerned with our religious convictions. The crowd was packed in tight around the stage and the prevalent dance step consisted of bouncing with your beer bottle in the air. Up in the front was a woman who looked a lot like my mom. To my left was a boy who wore the facial expression that I hoped I was masking: slack jaw, raised eyebrows, eyes wide. There was a wide range of ages and barely any mix of races.

When I was about totally deaf, Peggy and I decide to slip out to the ladies room. There were two: one bank of port-a-potties near the front door and another in the back of the parking lot behind all the vendors. The closer bank had a heap of hundreds of beer bottles at the entrance and a line pretty long. Peggy & I decided to take a chance on the back lot and see if we could regain any of our hearing.

Negotiating the river of incoming and outgoing bikes, we took in the sights. Any bike accessory, any t-shirt with the f-word on it, and any fried food was available. Many women were wearing the same outfit as the waitresses even though they did not have the same build as the hired girls. They apparently didn’t care and neither did their boyfriends. I surely wasn’t going to share my opinion. I certainly wasn’t going to risk flirting with anyone’s boyfriend.

The facilities in the back were as high class as port-a-potties can get. They had attendants who kept each seat clean and had a table of hand sanitizers out front. How civilized! I tipped big.

On my way back in I picked up a few accessories to help me blend in. I’m looking forward to wearing them again to get my money’s worth. The ride out was considerably warmer than the ride in. It might have even been because of my new jacket.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I still have so much to tell you about my adventures at Bike Week, like my evening at SB&B: a Biker Burnout Bar. But I have to tell you instead about the new Dixie Chicks CD.

My friend Julie sent me a copy of their new CD that is a controversial smart-ass comeback to the backlash they got for exercising their right to free speech last year. (Julie loves a smart-ass as much as I do; she’s just more subtle than I am sometimes.) They have an in-your-face song called “Not Ready to Play Nice” that is a great angry song for any occasion, not just trashing the president. But that’s not the song I want to talk about.

Today was a beautiful spring day: sunny, not too hot. The primrose in my garden are going nuts and my roses are blooming in spite of my neglect. I was just doing the dishes. It was a rare night when none of us had to rush off for any practice or meeting. If we forgot something, I’m glad. So I was doing dishes instead of collecting paper plates from the TV room, listening to my new CD and watching all three of my gorgeous children enjoy the last of the daylight together. They were chasing each other around on the trampoline. I’m glad I have this lovely garden window over my sink so I could watch them play.

Then track 6 came on. It is called “Lullaby.”

“…I slip in bed when you’re asleep To hold you close and feel your breath on me. Tomorrow there’ll be so much to do So tonight I’ll drift in a dream with you…”

I miss my babies. I don’t want anymore mind you. I feel pretty confident about that. I love the kids my babies have become. But those babies don’t exist anymore.

“As you wander through this troubled world In search of all things beautiful You can close your eyes when you’re miles away And hear my voice like a serenade…”

My oldest is on the verge of adulthood: one foot in childhood with her hair in braids, stepping into womanhood with her eyeliner and mascara. She’s gorgeous. She’s kind. How can I be her mother? How can I do this?

“How long do you want to be loved? Is forever enough, is forever enough? ‘Cause I’m never never Givin’ you up.”

I was crying and I hate to cry alone, so I thought I’d drag you guys into it.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you what SBB stands for. But tonight I needed to announce that I love my children, in case I had neglected to tell you.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Bikers are not subtle flirts. I noticed this at Bike Week before we even got out of the car.

We had finally arrived in town Friday afternoon. It was sunny, our windows were down, our music playing loud. We were listening to “Nickleback,” a band I had never investigated before. I thought it was “Nickle Creek,” a happy little bluegrassy band. This music was totally different: alpha male type headbanger music. I’m sure this would never be on the recommended music list in Ms. Magazine. But it seemed appropriate for the setting and so we listened – loud.

So I was learning the words to “Next Contestant” with my feet out the window when I heard a shout from the biker in the lane at the red light beside me.
“Where in Maryland are you from?” He had on a leather doo-rag and goggle style sunglasses. He was on a yellow motorcycle and sorry, but this suburban mom did not notice if it was a Harley, a Chopper, or something else. If I had to bet I’d say a Harley, but that’s just playing the odds. I was surprised by his question and leaned out the window and he repeated,
“Where are you from in Maryland?”
Oh. So I told him.
“I’m from Rockville!” he shouted, pointing at himself. The light was green now so we were separating. Well, I thought, that’s good to know. I waved good-bye.

But there were a lot of stop lights, so we met again.
“Hey Maryland!”
I leaned out with a smile, expecting more pleasantries.
“Why aren’t you on my bike?”
Oh! He kinda cut to the chase there, huh? I just knew my mother would worry if she knew – or worse, my daughter. I had planned on spending the weekend with Peggy. Besides, he didn’t have a sissy bar. I’m not riding without a sissy bar.

“I don’t think that’s a safe idea!” I hollered over the growling engines. I didn’t want to piss him off, so I was still trying to smile in a friendly way.
“Why not?” He seemed hurt, like he really thought I might jump on.
Obviously this guy doesn’t have a daughter.
“I don’t even know your name!”
He stuck his hand toward my window. Since the light was still red, I grabbed it and shook.
“I’m Juan.”
I told him my name. I hope I didn’t say "pleased to make your acquaintance."
“So what’s your excuse now? Hop on?”
Darn it if the light wasn’t green again and we had to get going.

“Where are you going?” he shouted over all the rumbling.
I told him with a pang of instant regret, even though he was a cutie – no beer belly, muscular arms. I love muscular arms.

We pulled into the restaurant parking lot to meet with Peggy’s biker gang. I felt anxious in case Juan Rockville showed. It was a big parking lot, but I never saw him again all weekend. I was 75% relieved and 25% disappointed. It’s that 25% of me that keeps me worried about myself.

Monday, May 22, 2006

I have a few observations about North Carolina to share after my drive through.

First of all, pay attention because you have to drive fast. If you drive too slow you’ll get a fine. These North Carolinians don’t mess around. Soon after we crossed into the state we saw a sign that warned 70 m.p.h. $250 fine. Gheez! We played it safe and kept it at 75. I didn’t want to go too slow and get in trouble. No wonder all the bikers were stopping to put on their helmets.

I noticed that the state naming committee is rather literal. No effort is wasted on researching Native American names or themes about natural resources. We passed Truck Stop Road and Prison Camp Road – neither of which I’m guessing have a hot real estate market. We drove over Little River, Fishing Creek, and Rocky Swamp. When we passed through Whiteville, I had to wonder about the town demographics.

I was also aware of the need for reasonably priced roofing companies in this state. There seems to be more demand than supply. Lots of wavy roofs. Some roofs were so saggy that you could step up onto them without a ladder. I have studied the early warning signs of a bad roof. Construction Girl needs to send that information down south.

If you take a break at a rest stop in North Carolina, you will not have to worry about damp hands after leaving the restroom. These restrooms are equipped with Xlerator hand dryers. As a slight warning before putting your hands in their air stream, there are the words “Feel the Power.” They aren’t kidding. My hands were knocked away at first. The force of the air made my skin ripple in a bizarre manner that outlined my bones. These Xlerators must have come at a bargain because they were at our next stop too. This time I couldn’t resist experimenting a bit more. I tried my whole arm under the pummeling air. Cool. It would be interesting with flabbier skin. Where could I try it? I looked around to be sure no one was watching. I lifted my shirt and let the air hit my tummy. My belly looked like a skin seastorm. It was such a freaky sight that I started to laugh so hard I couldn’t speak clearly to tell Peggy to try it. I just had to show her. She tried it and the addition of the belly ring made it quite a sight. Everyone should laugh ‘til they cry once a day or so.

If you have to stop at a rest stop in N.C to watch the Xlerator ripple your skin in various places, be sure to stop at the one with a Subway were Roz works. As I was checking out I noticed that one of the Otis Spunkmeyer Oatmeal Raisins was all crumbled. I pointed out to Roz what a shame it was that this cookie was no longer in saleable condition and would have to be disposed of. I suggested that such a cookie should probably be removed from the case. She thanked me graciously for the advice and immediately cleaned up the mess, letting me aid in the disposal of the crumbles. What a conscientious employee.

So we sped north, thoroughly dried, informed of our surroundings, dropping good business principles around us as we enjoyed our delicious cookie crumbles.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Homecoming, after a little vacation and a long road trip, takes some time. Aside from tired I am feeling regret for the vacation foods I allowed myself. When will I learn?
chili dogs
onion rings
krispy kremes
fried shrimp
fried chicken
an many more high calorie drinks than I usually have.

I need some Tums.

I took some notes on the trip home and will unravel some of those stories later.
I enjoyed some of your road trip stories!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

What are your favorite beach books?
Last summer at the beach I was reading "Middlesex" by Jeffrey Euginides (I don't know if I've spelled that right.) That was a great book, but borderline too literary for the beach. I'm not taking any chances on serious reading this beach trip and I have Janet Evanovich's "One for the Money." So far it is fun and compelling with no deeper meaning lurking between the lines.

I checked this hotel gift shop for a paper or a Cosmo - required beach reading. They didn't have the magazine I wanted, so I bought an Esquire with Tom Hanks on the cover. There was an exciting little article on page 54. Apparently someone is selling a digital camera that has a "slimming" button. This feature moves the pixels in closer together, making you look 10 pounds lighter. Cool huh? I was thinking I need a new camera. There are a few folks here at Bike Week that would benefit from that feature.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Doncha just love road trips? I am currently cruising down 95 South with my partner in crime, Peggy, in her new car with the windows down at sunset. It’s actually just before sunset, the last bright sideways sunlight of the day before it slips behind the trees. We’ve just crossed over the Ocoquan River and are headed for warmer climes. Peggy found a new radio station, 100.3that is playing great road trip music. Right now the Stones are singing “Jumping Jack Flash.” Just before we were belting it out with “The Who” in “Teenage Wasteland.” We’ve heard Jimmy Buffet, Joe Cocker, and the Guess Who. We’ve got a bag of munchies and we are sailing passed the bumper to bumper HOV lanes which have apparently overshot their purpose.

I’ve had some great road trips in my life and some that turned out pretty crappy. Heading to the beach with my kids last summer, we were stuck in deep traffic for the last several miles. They were collecting peace signs from their fellow trapped motorists. They were delighted and it made the traffic jam seem fun – especially since my kids started liking some decent music that we all enjoy singing loud. The ride home from the beach, sunburned and sandy and tired is never as much fun – except for the mandatory produce stand stop.

One of my best road trips ever was last summer with my friend in Boise. In one day, we drove from Boise to Yachats, Oregon (prounced “Yah-hots, Organ.) What a spectacular trip that was! First of all it was with my best friend from high school, Jo, who I hadn’t seen in a long time and it was great to catch up with her. The scenery was varied and magnificent. Once there, we got chased by a bear and evacuated for a tsunami warning among other fun adventures. We met up with some other friends and debated the pronunciation of “aspartame” after sunset on the Pacific coast beach.
Great trip.

Tell me one of your good road trip stories. We’ll save crappy road trip stories for another day.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

My mother’s Senior Chorale is stepping up in the world. I’m sitting in the front of a packed Senior Center awaiting the Spring Swing performance of my town’s senior chorus. I bet there are more than 200 people here. I’m not the youngest audience member, but I sure help bring the average age down. This will be the first time I’ve ever seen the group perform on risers. Judging from the condition of the carpet on them and the sheen on the metal frame, I’d say they are brand new. Woo hoo!

And there’s another exciting development: a conga drum. So this bodes well for a hip senior performance. (I suppose usually when “hip” and “senior” are used in the same sentence that it is in a different context.)

The adorable director is setting up bar stools for the soloists to use during the show. He is easily a third and in some cases even a fourth of the age of the members of the choir. He has a long dark ponytail and pretty much dances around as he conducts the singers. He is dressed handsomely in pin-striped pants and a rose colored shirt. He is way too young for me to flirt with, although I caught his eye for an exchange of smiles anyway. He’s seen me at these performances before. I’m a Senior Chorale groupie.

Here come the singers to a spray of applause. They are all in black pants and a garden of pastel colored shirts. The hairstyles are predominantly gray or gone, with a handful of women with color – none blue. I told you these were cool seniors. My mother is easily the prettiest one up there. Happiness is a great accessory.

My friend Peggy’s mother is also in this choir. She and my mom are friends as are our daughters. We are a tri-generational friendship. It’s cool.

Wow! This group always amazes me. The first number was “Rock Island” from the “Music Man.” The song sounds like a train coming in. I’m sure it was complicated to learn with no accompaniment. The conductor’s dance at times resembles what my children & I refer to as the “potty dance.” But that was just for the first chugging train number. The subsequent swing and romantic numbers convinced me that he’s probably taken lessons.

Their sound quality is so full. They have really improved since I first heard them last year. They respond so well to the conductor and really control their dynamics.

It’s interesting to be on the other side of the generations now. Mom used to go to my performances. Then she went to my children’s. Now I’m going to hers. I suppose if I grew up in Vegas or Orlando I’d be used to a performing parent.

For “Get Happy” these guys were cranking! The conductor was really cutting the rug and the performers were smiling so big their eyes are having trouble focusing on the music. I even see some irrepressible hand gestures. Maybe some of these performers have Broadway experience.

Now they are singing “Alice in Wonderland.” He says it was difficult to learn, but you can’t tell from hearing it. Next a medley from “Sleepless in Seattle.” I’m up close enough and off to the side so that I can see the conductor using his eyebrows to remind the singers to smile. He’s still dancing. This is an aerobic job for him. That must be why he’ so slim.

“Lean on Me” is being sung directly to me. Mom keeps looking over. The conductor is using his hard soled shiny black shoes for percussion. He keeps smiling when the seniors in the audience who join in his clapping call are off beat.
“Lean on me, when you’re not strong. I’ll be your friend. I’ll help you carry on.
For it won’t be long ‘til I’m gonna need somebody to
lean on.”
I’m singing too.
“Call me. Oh baby just call me. When you need a friend call me.”
I hear you Mom.

Here comes a medley called “It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got that Sing Sing Sing.” There are a lot of sneakered toes tapping in this place. The pastels up front are bouncing and swaying.

No time for an encore; they’ve gotta set up for lunch. When the standing ovation subsides, these smiling, swinging, singing, seniors will file out and cram the surrounding restaurants for lunch – or perhaps stay right here and enjoy the Sr. Center lunch service. Singing can work up an appetite!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I’ve been feeling a bit stressed deciding my future here lately. I don’t mean to complain because I have a unique and wonderful situation where I can pretty much pursue whatever I want to, even if this situation arose from a painful one. So I have been considering franchising, specifically a retail tax service and a real estate investment company. Or I could just take a job, like in a store that sells stuff I like to buy so I can get the discount. Or I can go back to school. I could go back into teaching. Sweet little Fern who I watch after school suggested I go into modeling! It’s great to be adored.

I’m leaning toward working on my Master’s and trying to discipline myself to complete some freelance writing work. I will still have some work from time to time on that construction website project I was working on earlier.

My 7th grade daughter has been researching colleges. I’m not sure what bug has bitten her to prompt her to start looking into it now. Every day she hands me something else she printed out from a college’s website. I guess you expect your options to be wide open when you are 12.

Do you like it better when you have a lot of options or just a couple? I guess there are pros & cons with each situation. I’m sure it depends on if your options are about your job, relationships, your church, pizza delivery services (my dinner plan tonight) or movies to watch. Certainly a lot of choices are better than no choice. Is there such a thing as too many choices? If you could pursue your dream job, what would it be? What do you want to be when you grow up?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I have a shopping tip for anyone considering the purchase of an unabridged dictionary: make that purchase on the last stop of the shopping trip. Carrying around all the words in the English language is no small task. It doesn’t actually have all the words. It doesn’t have blog, It didn’t have an entry for the Queen Mother of cuss words which surprised me, but it did have several entries and conjugations for shit – not that I needed help with that definition. It did confirm that shat really is the past tense. It does seem to have everything else I can think of to look up. Let me know if you have any word challenges for it.

I have wanted an unabridged dictionary for a long time. I like that it has historical meanings of words. It will be great for Scrabble challenges and pressing flowers. Maybe I am revealing my weirdness here, but I just think it is cool. I like to learn new words. It will surely help with thinking of different CG’s – like maybe Chronically Garrulous.

I have narrowed my franchise investigations to three different companies. I have a pile of reading and a schedule of phone calls to make. I have such mixed feelings about taking this on. I’m not committed to anything yet, but may choose to do so soon. I’m going to have to take some of this reading material with me to the beach this weekend. Not really the beach reading I had in mind, but intriguing just the same.

I will be taking my laptop with me, but don’t know if I’ll be able to blog or not. It is bike week in Myrtle Beach, so I’m sure I’ll find some interesting sights to blog about. Surely I’ll find a little internet cafĂ© somewhere.

So let me know if you have any word challenges for my new dictionary. I’ll look it up absolutely free!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Behind almost every picture in my house is at least one spare hole where I didn’t hang it. I tend to “eyeball” where I want things. Those that don’t have that hidden flaw were probably hung by the ex-husband. This was an interesting symptom of the demise of our marriage: he a measure twice, cut once kind of guy and me, an impulsive imperfectionist. He would measure the wall and divide it in half to find center. Then he’s measure the picture and divide it in half and then take into account the distance from the top of the frame to the hanging wire after measuring the wall from floor to ceiling and dividing in half. That seemed like a whole lot of unnecessary math to me. Who would ever see the hole that was too high or too low? The people who helped us move out?

But I know those kind of things drive certain people crazy. One customer on a bathroom remodel job wanted us to patch a hole behind a mirror that had been silently mocking her for decades. She wanted extra staples removed from studs that were going to be sealed inside a wall. I bet she measured before hanging.

Well today I finished a home spackling job that only caused one injury, much more minor than the black eye in the shed. (By the way, I’ve used the biker bar story several times to everyone’s delight. If you missed that great story, you’ll find it on the May 10th blog where you see 8 comments listed. It’s worth the read.)

I was prying a cheap plastic towel rack off a wall with a screwdriver. The rack had been stuck to the wall with foam adhesive by the previous owner at least 12 years ago and then painted over. When my prying efforts pressing away from me weren’t getting the results I wanted, I tried from the other direction. It worked great – except the force of my prying jolted the screwdriver forward and right into my chest (just over my left benign breast.) There wasn’t much blood and the bruise is only about the size of a quarter. I’d stick with safer tasks of vacuuming and dusting, but those bore me.

Anyhow, all this is to say that my spackling and repainting isn’t pristine, but it will do fine. I’m hanging a lovely earring rack there that was handmade for me by my friend Anne. So the flaws will be mostly hidden.

So which kind of hanger and spackler are you: the measuring mathematician and the Michelangelo of plaster, or an imperfectionist like me?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Most of you have “met” my mother on this blog. I wanted to let you know a little more about her since this is her day. Tomorrow is also her day, since she turns 65 in the morning. In the eyes of many people, 65 is the beginning of old age. That’s the age of retirement, and my mom retired a couple of years ago. If she is typical of old age and retirement, then I am certainly looking forward to that period of my life. Mom is having more fun than ever.

My mom was born and raised in Southern California, a fact that I think has saved me a lot of heart ache. She was the tom boy little sister of two brothers and adored by her parents. She met my dad on a blind date arranged by their mothers who were teachers together. After they married and had their first baby, my dad got a job at NASA that he took “few a few years” until he could get a job back on the west coast. That was 41 years ago. I was born and raised right here in Maryland when I was supposed to be a California girl.

For generations my family had been members of the Church of Christ (church of Christ if you want to be picky) which is dominated by people born and raised in the South - Alabama, Arkansas, and Tennessee especially. Women raised in these states (and I realize I am making sweeping generalizations here that are perhaps unfair, but they are my experience) are particularly concerned about appearances. You have to wear the right make-up, clothes, hats on Easter, no white after Labor Day, and dust and vacuum regularly. You have to use china and cloth napkins and have brass candlesticks.

My mom may have had brass, but she never cared about candlesticks, and I am grateful for that. She taught me by her example that it is more important to be there for your kids than to dress them right. She taught me that my guests care more that I invited them over and had good conversation than about my china or cloth napkins. She taught me to have good snacks in the house and to be honest with kids about sex. She taught me that if something is funny, I can tilt back my head and laugh loud. She taught me that you can question the establishment and survive outside of it.

My mom always thinks the best of me and always believes I can do anything. She is my own personal cheerleader and psychiatrist. My mom is a world traveler, an artist, a nurse, a deacon, a wife, a cool mother, a fun grandmother, and a loyal friend. I love her and am proud she is mine

Saturday, May 13, 2006

I’m working on my karma today. I sat at my son’s lacrosse game and chit chatted with his step mom. I have instinctively avoided that situation and could have continued to do so. But it has been three years now and I’m tired of maintaining the, shall we say awkwardness. So I walked over and pulled up a chair and we discussed our opinions of “The DaVinci Code.” She’s kind to my children and they like her. In fact I think her presence has sometimes made it easier for my kids to go with their dad.

I suppose it would suck to be in her shoes, even if she picked them out for herself. My shoes are feeling quite fine. I don’t want to even borrow her shoes. I often like to go barefoot.

It must’ve been step parent day on the side lines today. I realized I’m not the only one facing these awkward situations. Life can be hard enough. I’m all for eliminating stress wherever possible; some are just harder to address head on than others.

So we wished each other a happy Mother’s Day and I’m sure we’ll see each other again.

So Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who are filling the role of mother to someone in some form. I hope you have fun with the kids this weekend.

Friday, May 12, 2006

In case anyone was worrying about me, you’ll be relieved to know that I have “benign breasts.” Officially.

I know this is a good thing. I am grateful that the money I raised last year for the Avon Marathon Walk for Breast Cancer (“save the boobies!”) was not needed for my immediate use. I’m glad I don’t have to endure the anxieties and agonies that some of my friends have endured and mercifully survived.

But “benign” just sounds boring. I don’t really want to invest in the surgery for killer breasts. There are much worse things to be than benign. I have used the word “benign” to describe dates or acquaintances that were non-offensive, but not interesting – harmless. Someone I could manage never to go out with again. (Don’t worry. I’m sure I don’t mean you.)

I keep a dictionary beside my keyboard here that is woefully out of date, but often used. It defines benign as, among other things, “manifesting gentleness and mildness.” I suppose that’s OK. Definition #3 says “tending to promote well-being, beneficial.” Well that certainly was true when I had babies. Maybe it these guys are so beneficial I should let them out more often. But then they might not be “gentle and mild.”

I wonder if I should get a second opinion?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Sometimes when I talk to my eleven year old son I feel like an ESOL student. I try to follow his conversation, leaning toward him as I drive to help me concentrate. Every now and then coherent phrases emerge that encourage me to follow along and hope I understand. But then the conversation descends into gibberish that I can only marginally comprehend. I try to fake it like I did as a new taxpayer when my dad tried explaining the tax form to me. It usually works, but every now and then I sense his frustration. Maybe if I was a better mom I would invest some time to learn this video game language, but I haven’t.

“I’m so glad I found the Emerald Version. I can’t wait to get home and play it,” he shares his relief and excitement with me. He has recently found his Gameboy DS when we moved the old couch out of the house. He had wanted me to replace the lost system with a Gameboy SP. I always feel resentful to the point of anger that the gaming industry puts out a new model every year and markets it so that kids feel like they must have the newer version, even if none of their game cartridges will work on the new system. So naturally, the sucker parents will then have to buy all new games too.

When he was campaigning for the DS system he asked if I knew what DS stood for. Dumb shit? I thought. “Dual Screen” he explained. When the SPs hit the market he asked me the same question. “Stupid Parents?” I ventured, only to be met with a big eye roll from my skinned-kneed boy.

“When I see Stephen I can use my cord to link our systems and trade my Oddish to him and he can trade it back because that’s the only way it can evolve.” I somewhat understood this explanation and gave a generic, “Sounds like a good plan” response.

“Mom, do you know how to breed pokemons?” Kyle asked, eager to bring me up to speed.
“Give them bourbon?” I guessed. He must’ve reacted the same way to my bourbon comment as I had to his earlier explanations.
“No,” he continued nonplussed by my attempt at humor. He knows that breeding makes more Pokemons, but he hasn’t considered their sexuality specifically. That’s probably a good thing.
“I can use a Leafstone to evolve Gloom into Vileplume. Then if I can breed the Vileplume with Skeptile, I’ll get a Treeko.
“Why do you want a Treeko?” I asked thinking how similar Pokemon wrangling sounded to my convoluted love life.
“Then I’d have two of the three beginning Pokemons and that would be cool,” he said, explaining the obvious.

Despite the communication gaps, I love my kids. I have so much to learn from them!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

(I am continuing to have trouble posting on blogger. I may switch to a different blog host. If that works, I’ll try to post where to find the new home for CG. This continuing thorn is a pain in the butt! Thanks to Brooke, Anne, & Joe for doing their best to help me. Blogger itself offers no tech support to clarify the problem.)

My eye has become quite colorful, although this violet eye is nothing like Elizabeth Taylor's. It still provides a constant ache. I awoke with a headache that is oddly one-sided. I don’t know if it classifies as a true shiner because it doesn’t encircle my whole eye. But my left eye has a bruise the color of a grape juice stain in the corner by my nose. A paler bruise is edging out from there. It may be a few days before it shifts to green.

It has been interesting to watch people’s reactions. Close friends don’t mind just asking what happened. But acquaintances and strangers are more cautious. I can tell when they’ve noticed, but don’t want to ask. The story could be too personal. So I’m not sure if I want to offer the tale or let them assume I was in a fight or an accident. If I’m going to keep seeing them, I will tell them once I can see that they’ve noticed. But the strangers seem to softened a bit when they see it, like they pity me for whatever reason caused the bruise. I should just say, “They say housework never killed anyone, but it came pretty close with me.”

You want to know what’s ironic? About a month ago I spent $100 on a tube of the new great cosmetic cream that is supposed to reduce the appearance of dark circles under your eyes. God seems to keep finding ways of keeping me humble.

this is a test

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I have been poked and squeezed in all the wrong ways today. I am typing this entry with blurred vision and frozen fingers from holding an ice pack on my eye. When I take the ice pack off, my new injury throbs. So I am using the one-handed typing method.

Let me start at the beginning.

I began my morning with one of the wonderful gifts of middle age, a mammogram. So I had naked pictures taken of myself. Better yet, I had them taken with a friend. My walking buddy, Anne, & I like to do healthy things together. Even though they were naked pictures, they weren’t dirty. In the lovely dressing “room” there was a basket of “mammo-wipes” available. Apparently moist towlettes of the ordinary variety are not sufficient for wiping mammos. The actual squeezing part wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated. I am flexible in ways I hadn’t realized.

Then about an hour ago, I nearly poked my eye out.

I decided to spend some time in the sun while working on my pool. I put on a tank top & shorts and lotioned up. The shed where I keep the chemicals seems dark inside after being in the bright sun. I was bending over to grab a bottle of algicide and collided into the end of a black nylon flexible support pole for my kids’ soccer net.

I decided to sit down. Right then. Then I had a bit of cussing to do. After a moment, I pulled my hand away from my face to see if it was tears or blood or eye jelly collecting in my hand. Fortunately it was only tears. So I took myself inside for ice and a peek in the mirror. Already swollen. Already turning purple. This is going to be a beaut. It’s a good thing I’m not preaching any time soon.

Of course two minutes later my friends Michael & Debbi popped in for an unexpected visit. It seems I was safer on their construction sites than I am alone in my own house.

I’m going to have to come up with a better story for my black eye in lieu of the truth. So if you have a creative suggestion to offer after the inevitable gasps of “What happened to you?” that I’m bound to encounter this week, I am open to your embellishment.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Well, my Sunday sermon went fine apparently. No one walked out in a huff, no one laughed at my shaking knees, and there was no throwing of rotten vegetables. So overall I would classify it as a success. I have endeared myself to the little-old-lady crowd as well as the preacher who was happy to have the Sunday "off." A few of my new fans suggested I go into seminary. I graciously declined citing as a reason that I didn't want to be that committed to attending every Sunday. I would also have to go to a different church since this one already had a preacher. I decided not to mention occasional Sunday hangovers.

To celebrate, I rode with a friend on his Harley over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge for lunch on Kent Island. It was lovely and sunny - thrilling on a few levels. I wonder if that is a typical preacher way of letting off steam?

So today I am continuing my personal career evaluation: reading classifieds, filling out franchise research questionairres, looking on-line at course offerings. I always thought that at this age I would know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I guess life is just not as stable as it appeared when I was 18.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

I am doing something big tomorrow that I am certainly not worthy of doing: I am preaching a sermon. Actually, I am delivering it at two different services.
I have written the sermon, a call for boldness, and rehearsed it. I have sent it to a few friends for editorial comment. I have researched the facts and verses I'm using. But here's the thing.
I'm totally not worthy to deliver it. I am not one to put myself into the role of a moral authority. I am amazed that I am being allowed to do this. I am far from a classic Church Girl. I'm honestly more of a Carnal Girl. Thank God my church doesn't go in for the traditional too hard. I can't help thinking though that if they knew me better, they wouldn't give me the microphone.
I am looking forward to it with a combination of excitement and dread. Among other things, I am saying that God can use our lives no matter how good we are at living them. He can use our deliberate efforts to behave in a way that honors Him, and he can use our screw ups too. Isn't that a relief? We don't have to be timid. If we are bold we give God more to work with. And if we screw it all up, that's OK too. Maybe that's not a bad message to come from a screw up like me.

Friday, May 05, 2006

CG- Cinco de Maio Gathering!
I'm planning some festivities. I even made jello with tequila in it. I hope you all have fun weekend stuff planned. What are your favorite Mexican foods & drinks? I love spicy foods.

I'm still struggling with the computer, but have narrower it down to the modem. Hopefully by Monday all my problems will be resolved. (Yeah right. At least my computer ones.)

One of my most annoying CG's has been completed. I was Commissioner Girl for my daughter's soccer league. It was a moment of weakness. Maybe my medication was off or something. I agreed to make some phone calls, then got handed a 8 page print out of names. Yikes! Then there were just a few other duties regarding game schedules, equipment distributions, t-shirt, trophies & medals, parent & coach complaints. Anyway, the balls are all collected and nets returned. If I had a theme song, it might be from "Oklahoma!" - that song, "I'm Just a Girl who Can't Say No." I'm just a sucker for a compliment. What sucks you in over your head?

Have a great weekend

Thursday, May 04, 2006

One of my recent CG’s has been Couch Gambler. A few weeks ago I decided to go ahead and invest in a new set of furniture for my family room. The old set was poorly made and badly abused. So I was very happy with my purchase which I made in a showroom here in Maryland. Some of the pieces weren’t available for immediate delivery, so I only took delivery of the couch – which was fortuitous.

The base of the lovely brown leather queen sleeper sofa was narrower than I realized in the showroom. Maybe the one in the showroom was more broken in. I am only 5’5”. When I sit on the couch, my feet touch the floor. In order for me to lie down on it, I have to keep straight so I don’t fall off.

As you know, my old couch was history: completely destroyed and hauled off with the garbage. So no going back there. I called the furniture store to see if I could pay to have them take it back and I could reselect another product. No! Against store policy. Sure enough, there it was in the fine print that I signed my name to. Damn! That couch wasn’t cheap. Thank goodness my creative walking partner, Anne, gave me some ideas that will save the couch involving pulling the cushions forward and inserting some foam pieces. I put the remaining furniture on hold until I can get back into the showroom to reconsider my selection.

In an effort to prevent you all from making the same expensive mistake, I have some advice for you. Take someone with you to buy the couch, preferably someone you would like to lie down on the couch with. Give the couch a test run with a few positions. If I had thought of it, I bet I could’ve asked the cute salesman if he would have accommodated me with a few test positions. Can you imagine?
One thing CG will never stand for is Computer Girl. I don't know what is going on with my computer. Apparently the problem lies at least in part with my computer and perhaps my technical ignorance since I can post a blog from my friend's house. Thanks Anne! I do think something was going on at blogger and it could have to do with all the kids that use my computer. I have the rental geek coming back to look things over.

Anyway, since we last talked I've been trying to formulate a new career plan. I am considering investing in a franchise, I just don't know which one yet. I am in the early exploration stage. I may resume the pursuit of a Master's Degree. I may get my realtor's license. So I guess CG is Changing Girl right now. The tech writing job will continue, but the bulk of the work on that project is done. So time to move on. It was a good run. I'll let you know when that website is up and running.

I'll either fix my computer or get to the library to post later today. I have to tell you the saga of my couch. But right now I'm supposed to be home getting my kids off to school. I popped in here after my morning two-miler with Anne.

Sorry I have missed a few days. I hope I still have some readers!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Monday, May 01, 2006