Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Resolution- Motivation

I haven't really had time to make my "formal" list of resolutions.  It's still a work in progress...BUT...at the TOP of the list, is to LOSE WEIGHT. 

I'm finding it more and more difficult to lose weight as I get older, and I'm also finding my willpower to say no to fried foods, cookies, peanut butter, and, of course, bacon practically non-existent!!!

To motivate me to lose about 15 pounds, I am posting my most recent school photo in hopes that seeing myself looking...a little portly...will help!

I think I'll also post THIS photo as added incentive...!!!

Here's hoping YOU are well on your way to a better new you too!!!!  Happy New Year!!!!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Reflections on Commuting

I've never been a patient driver.  I get behind the wheel and suddenly EVERYONE is an idiot, and NO ONE, apparently, ever took a driver's ed. class IN THEIR ENTIRE CLUELESS LIFE...

That being said, I now find myself BEING a commuter.  When I took the new job this fall, I KNEW it would be a struggle.  I KNEW it would be a challenge.  I THOUGHT there were enough radio stations, and musical lyrics to memorize, and relaxation techniques to master...and it would be fine.  I vowed that I would learn to relax, and come to enjoy the "quiet time" in the car.  Yeah...not so much.

In my countless hours in the car over the last several months, I have made a few observations.  I have come to realize that there are, basically, FOUR kinds of commuters.  They include:  "Mr. Shifty", "Ms. Tortoise", "Mr. RIGHT UP MY BUTT", and "Miss Driver's Ed"  (and, even though I've assigned a gender to each, the types are not gender specific).

"Mr. Shifty" is the guy or gal who NEVER stays in a lane longer than three seconds.  Somehow believing that the line of DEAD STOP traffic ahead will not interfere with getting from "point A" to "point B" quicker, "Mr. Shifty" weaves in and out of open spaces (left by "Ms. Tortoise", which I shall describe next), causing those of us behind, beside, or in front of them, to veer off course, slam on the brakes, and, generally, try NOT to get sideswiped, dinged, or rammed as a result of their intense desire to get beyond the jam, and zip merrily on their way.  "Mr. Shifty" could also be called "Mr. I Don't Ever Use My Turn Signal Because It's No Ones Business Where I'm Going", but that's too long to type, and uses too many capital letters...

"Ms. Tortoise" is my LEAST favorite commuter, and the rationale of this woman (or man) is COMPLETELY beyond my realm of understanding.  "Ms. Tortoise" CRAWLS through traffic jams, leaving AT LEAST NINE CAR LENGTHS in front of her at all times.  When traffic is moving, or the roads are slippery, I understand leaving a little "sliding/slamming on the brakes" space, but when you are at a DEAD STOP, there's ABSOLUTELY no reason to sit a distance the length of a FOOTBALL FIELD behind the vehicle in front of you.  "Mr. Shifty", "Mr. RIGHT UP MY BUTT", and even "Miss Driver's Ed" will ALL cut in front of you, causing those of us behind you to be delayed even longer, since you INSIST on keeping that same distance AT ALL TIMES, no matter how many cars fill the void.

"Mr. RIGHT UP MY BUTT" is the complete opposite of "Ms. Tortoise".  Come dry roads, rain, snow, ice, or tornado, he's right on your back bumper, DARING you to touch your brakes.  "Mr. RIGHT UP MY BUTT" makes sure that NO vehicles are going to get between him (or her) and you...no matter what.  When "Mr. RIGHT UP MY BUTT" is behind me, I avoid a glance in the side view mirror, because "Objects in mirror are closer than they appear" would put "Mr. RIGHT UP MY BUTT" squarely in my back seat...

Luckily, there is a genteel and docile commuter known as "Miss Driver's Ed".  She (or he) is generally young, looks like they might have JUST completed actual driver's ed, and does everything correctly.  She (or he) maintains a safe distance behind the car in front (but not too much, like "Ms. Tortoise"), signals when switching lanes, smiles when making eye contact with other commuters, and waves when someone lets her (or him) in when switching lanes.  Unfortunately, "Miss Driver's Ed" is a rare and elusive creature, and sightings are about as common as Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. 

I guess I could classify myself as a FIFTH, and probably not very desirable, type of commuter..."Mr. Yell At People And Man Who Needs To Learn To Relax".  The name is too long, and is a species that probably needs to become extinct. This type of commuter is a tricky one to identify, and is kind of a Jekyll and Hyde.  He starts out calm, and vows to make it home without transforming into the monster, but...after encountering all of the other types of commuters over and overANDOVERANDOVER again during that tedious, TEDIOUS drive, finds it almost impossible.

So..."Mr. Pissy", as I will call myself for now, needs to figure this out.  I can't continue to expend THATMUCH energy twice a day for nine months of the year.  It's almost New Year's Resolution time.  I will add "calm commuter" (a more attainable version of "Miss Driver's Ed") to my list, which I never quite seem to accomplish, but for which I continue to try.

Here's hoping YOU have a short commute, or, if it's a long one, that you are not a "Mr. Pissy" (or a "Ms. Pissy") as I am.  If you have any suggestions as to how to make the commute more "harmonious", please feel free to leave them in the comments section of this post!!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Rest in Peace, dear sweet Edna!!!

So I made the trip down to Fairfield again this week for ANOTHER funeral.  There have been too many the last few months, and this time, it was for my "adopted grandma", Edna Perry.

Edna was 93, and had been in a care facility for the last ten years.  She wasn't happy there, and was ready to be done with this life.  I watched her health, and mental faculties deteriorate over time, and, as is the usual regret, hadn't been back to see her for MUCH too long.

She lived a good life, and I have MANY happy memories of this kind, loving, FUN, FUN woman...baking fortune cookies when she came to stay with us when we were kids...her "sweet talking" a police officer when I got pulled over for speeding by asking in her kindest, most grandmotherly voice "Is there a problem officer?" (and getting me off with a warning)...church potluck dinners...plays...walks...talks...she was a delight.

The world is a little emptier without you, dear friend, but I know you are in a better place, and that makes your passing a TINY bit easier.  Rest in peace, Edna, and I LOVE you very much!!!

Here's hoping YOU reconnected with happy memories recently too (but not the way I did!)!!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Pat and Joel's Bowling Ball

Saturday evening, Duane and I had a GREAT time at the "Bowling Ball".  Our friends Pat and Joel won two hours of bowling, for 25 people, at a silent auction last year at the Kaposia Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser.

They decided that it should be a FORMAL affair, so requested that everyone wear old prom or bridesmaids dresses, tuxedos, etc.   I had planned to wear my lemon yellow polyester tuxedo, but since most of the people attending had already seen it, decided to wear my "sparkly" one instead.  I wasn't sure WHAT Duane was going to pull together, but was GLORIOUSLY surprised to have him appear in a black tuxedo, with red bowtie and cummerbund.  He looked AWESOME!

We arrived at the bowling alley a few minutes early, and I opted for sitting in the car until I saw someone else in "formal attire" going in (what can I say...I'm a big chicken sometimes).  An SUV pulled in to the parking lot, and when I saw that the woman in the passenger seat had a feather in her hair, I figured we were safe to go in.

We found our group in the restaurant attached to the bowling alley, and must have looked really good...as we were waiting for our lanes to open up, a woman came up to me and asked if Duane and I had just gotten married...TOO funny!!!

UNFORTUNATELY, not everyone was into the "dressing up" part, and about half the group was dressed in their street clothes (losers!).  Those of us that DID dress up, however, had a GREAT time strutting our stuff.  Pat wore her wedding dress...which is GORGEOUS, and a good time was had by all.

 I, OF COURSE, had the lowest score of ANY of the attendees (I SUCK at bowling...and baseball...and football...and dodge ball...and every other sport known to man...), but what I lacked in skill, I made up for in panache!!!!

We even won "best couple"!!!

Here's hoping you had a chance to "dress to the nines" (or tens or elevens!) recently too!!!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

I Am Still Alive...Part II

The show has been over for almost a week...I'm STARTING to get caught up on sleep...laundry...cleaning...cooking...getting reacquainted with the people in my life! 

Still not ready to commit to a full blog entry, but here's a quick promo video that was done by the production team of the show.  I thought it was AWESOME!!!

More soon.  I'm ALMOST back to "normal"...if there IS such a thing for me!

Here's hoping you've all been well, and happy, and enjoying life too!!!!

Monday, October 7, 2013

I Am Still Alive...

...just busier than I've been for a long, long while (and, if you've followed the "happenings" at work over the last several years, you know THAT was busy enough).

In the space of about four days in late August, I applied for, got called to interview, interviewed, was offered a job, and accepted.  So...I quit the "five jobs in one", and am now the media specialist at an elementary school on the other side of the cities.

The commute is WRETCHED, but at least I'm not driving directly into the sun now, AND I'm at one school and not three.  I also no longer have to teach reading intervention as part of my job.

That being said, the learning curve is WICKED HUGE.  Mac instead of PC...Promethean boards instead of Smartboards...Google Docs instead of Microsoft Office...old dog...LOTS of new tricks.

I also started rehearsals for a musical, which "goes up" this weekend.

So...here are a few pictures of my recent transitions and the show...more in a few weeks, when the show is over, and I don't feel quite so...lost...in my new environs!!!

My sad "office/closet" at my old school.
My new office actually has windows...looking out
on a garden (those are grapvines hanging from that trellis!)...
All moved in!
Publicity "stills" from the show I'm in...FURTHER evidence that I need to get back
on track with Weight Watchers...oy...

Here's hoping YOU are surving your life, at present,  too!!!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Jelly Weekend in Iowa!!!!

CRAZY BUSY with a new job, a new show, and all the insanity of the start of a new school year (more on all of that when I have time!), but wanted to post a few pictures of our trip to mom and dad's for the (mostly) annual jelly making weekend!

Grandma Reynolds always used to "put up" batches and batches of wild plum jelly, and it was AMAZING!  After she died, I decided to carry on the tradition, so, for the past eight or nine years, give or take a year or two, I've trekked to southern Iowa to forage the ditches and fence lines around Tingley to gather enough plums to make a batch or two.

After noticing a crabapple tree LOADED with crabapples at the house next to mom and dad a few years back, I decided to add THAT to the jelly making list too.  Crabapples are tart and zippy, and make really good jelly!

This year, I had some of each fruit left after making a couple of batches, so Duane suggested combining them...thus "crabby plum" was born!  REALLY zingy, and DELIGHTFULLY fresh...and, FOR SURE, an addition to the annual festivities!!!

ADDING to the excitement this year, was the "assistance" of mom and dad's new kittens...Murphy and Moxie.  BOY WERE THEY HELPFUL...

Luckily, they ARE kittens, and they DID need some "rest time" every now and then...

It was GREAT to see mom and dad, and to get away from the cities for awhile (and the stress of changing jobs, packing up thirteen years of "stuff" from my (now) former school district, lugging it all across town to the new school, going through the introductions and "new teacher" stuff (I was hired late, so missed most of the "how to" orientation), and FREAKING OUT about how much this "old dog" now has to learn in his new school district).

It was also a very good feeling to be carrying on a "family tradition" with the jelly making, AND to start a NEW tradition...which, I'm happy to say, everyone there contributed to...the celebratory shout of "whoo hoo!" whenever a lid would "pop" (indicating a good seal of the canning lid).  With 31 jars of jelly "put up"...that's a lot of "whoo hoos"!!!!!!

Here's hoping YOU are enjoying the end of summer/beginning of fall, and that you were able to carry out a beloved family tradition recently too!!!!

Monday, August 19, 2013

ANOTHER Fairfield Visit!!!!

I was able to make another quick trip to Fairfield last week.  UNFORTUNATELY...it was for a funeral.  A dear family friend from YEAR'S back, died from complications related to a battle she had been fighting with cancer.

Funerals are such a bizarre thing.  Sad, but a chance to see people you haven't seen for a long time, and to reconnect with people who share history of some sort.  I hadn't seen Linda for YEARS, but going back to my old church, and my old church family, and being in that space, and being with those people brought back a FLOOD of memories...good and bad.

The trip down has become increasingly more and more tedious as time has passed.  It's a 5 1/2 drive to Fairfield, and, to make matters worse, I'd just gone HALFWAY to Fairfield, on the same route, the day before to pick up my nieces who had been staying with my parents the previous week (because of the funeral, I volunteered to get them, so mom and dad wouldn't have to drive to the cities to bring them back, then turn around and drive to Fairfield from here, then head back over to the other side of the state after the service).  Driving down the INCREDIBLY BORING interstate 35 two days in a row was INCREDIBLY BORING!!!!

Anyway...there were some GOOD moments...the journey down involved a stop at the Maid Rite in Ankeny.  If you've never experienced Maid Rite, I feel sorry for you!  It's not for everyone, and it's not even particularly noteworthy, but, once you've had a Maid Rite...you're hooked!

After almost backing into a car in the parking lot (my car has REALLY bad sight lines), which would have made the trip TOTALLY suck, I continued on to Fairfield.  I arrived around 7:30.

Andrew picked Tena (with whom I stayed) and me up, and we went for dinner/drinks at a new place, just off the square, called "The Burning Oak".

After dinner, we headed back to Tena's, chatted for awhile, then went to bed.

Monday morning, I got up, got ready, and headed to the funeral.  I left a little early to get coffee (Fairfield now has a Caribou!!!), and was, apparently, still in "city mode".  I left with JUST ENOUGH time to get coffee and get to the church...I THOUGHT!  Got coffee, and was at the church approximately THREE MINUTES LATER.  Killed the remaining 40 minutes checking Facebook and e-mail in my car!

The "celebration of life" for Linda was really nice.  People had some really lovely things to say, and it was a very nice service.  OF COURSE they ended it with the obligatory "make you cry" slide show and song.  Luckily, it was an AWFUL country song, and all I could focus on was how twangy the guitar was.  Good thing...otherwise I would have been a weepy mess.

I actually did really well until Russ, Linda's husband, got up and said that he wanted to hug/shake hands/talk to each and every one of us before we left.  Russ is an AWESOME guy, and he and I have done RAGBRAI (Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa) TWICE, so have been very close in the past. He's SUCH a great guy, and my heart aches for him right now.  Needless to say, I BURST into tears...sigh...

I stayed for the "Baptist luncheon" (an amazing thing...if you ever have the chance to partake in one, I HIGHLY recommend it!), and had the chance to chat with some dear old friends (and mom and family friend Diane, who came for the service).  I didn't stay very long because I needed to RUSH back to Tena's to get out of the suit (in Iowa...in August!), and, more importantly the MAN SPANX I wore to keep everything "firm and tight" (since I was seeing people I hadn't seen for a long time, and didn't want to be the MARSHMALLOW-Y me that I currently am!!).

MAN SPANX are a tool of the DEVIL, I think.  I made sure to let mom and Diane know that if I passed out, it was because of the MAN GIRDLE squeezing the life out of me, and to CUT ME OUT OF IT WITH THE JAWS OF LIFE, if the need arose!!!  I DID get several comments on looking svelte and trim, so I GUESS it was worth not being able to breathe for most of the morning...

After the funeral, I met Tena at her place, and we headed out for a little shopping.  I LOVE the Fairfield square!  Such unique shops, and so many BIZARRE places for a town in the middle of the country with a population of 10,000.  Where else, in a town this size, can you find Maharishi Vedic Teas, an Indian Restaurant, a chocolate boutique, and TWO Chinese restaurants nestled amongst a consignment shop, a hardware store, and a real estate office??!!  Kooky...and FABULOUS!!!

We drove out to Jefferson County Park to check out a possible wedding venue for Tena and Andrew's wedding next October, then met Andrew later for dinner at India Cafe...which I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE...

After that, we picked up Avery, and took a walk on part of the loop trail around the edge of town (which wasn't there when I lived there, but which I REALLY wish had been!)...

After the walk, we went back to Tena's, sat around talking for awhile, then went to bed.

On Tuesday, Tena had a haircut so left for that while I packed and loaded stuff back into the car (for the LONG, LONG, TEDIOUS trip back to the cities!).  Tena had a doctor's appt. in Iowa City, so I decided to go back a different way so that I could hang out in Iowa City (my college alma mater) for a while.

What a BLAST FROM THE PAST!!!  Lots of changes, but lots of things that were exactly the same!  I started by exploring/shopping Old Capitol Mall, then walked around the ped mall for awhile.

I walked around campus for awhile, by myself...

...then met Tena, and continued the tour down by the river (which has flooded repeatedly over the last couple of years, DECIMATING the theater, art, and music buildings, as well as the student union).

After walking around campus, we headed to Micky's Irish Pub for lunch (the "conglomeration" ROCKS!)...

...shopped at Prairie Lights Bookstore, and an art gallery nearby, then I headed back to my car.

To continue the "nostalgic-ness", I drove by the house at 221 S. Lucas.

I spent my senior year in this house with Jane, Sheryl, Kyl, Liz, Carol, Marty, and Bob...it was TRULY amazing!!!!

After the additional jog down memory lane, I hit the interstate, and headed back to the cities!  The reason for the trip was definitely sad, but there were delightful moments of fun and nostalgia too!!!!

Here's hoping YOU were able to "visit your past" recently too!!!!