Thursday, September 22, 2016

Pikes Peak Or Bust

Next week's destination.


That's an awfully tall mountain.

Did you know I was scared of heights? Just like my father, except I didn't realize it until the last few years.

When I look down I get sick to my stomach and dizzy. It's a physical reaction.

Of course, it won't stop me from doing anything I want to do.

I just close my eyes and roll with it.

(Mom will be right beside me holding my hand.)

That's what moms do...

Monday, September 19, 2016

Top Ten Signs You're Going On Vacation Very Soon

It's time for another trip of a lifetime. And, yep, I'm going too! Mom and I are going on a bus ride all the way across the central part of the country to Denver and The Colorado Rockies. We're going to the Olympic Training Center, the Air Force Academy, Pikes Peak (or bust) and a really high bridge which is going to be difficult for me to get across. It seems the older I get, the more afraid of heights I become. I might need to be medicated.  Pass the brownies, please!

We're very excited!

So here are the top ten signs that you are going on vacation very soon:

10. Your Facebook page is full of the places you are going to visit.

9. You're worrying because you haven't counted to see if you have enough underwear.

8. All work related emergencies are not your top priority.

7. You're broke!

6. You're the only happy person in the room when the boss says everyone has to work overtime the day you go on vacation.

5. No one likes you because they've already used up all of their vacation time.

4. The cats won't get out of the suitcase so you can pack.

3. Every piece of clothing you own has been tried on repeatedly and you are now convinced that the bright purple shirt goes with the too tight red pants and lime green flip flops.

2. You've concluded that there isn't enough time to lose that last ten pounds, said screw it and have just eaten a box of donuts.

1. The car breaks down and you are presented with an estimate that costs twice the price of your vacation.

Be sure and check back again, I'll be doing updates from the road.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

A Silent Reminder

In memory of those who lost their lives on that tragic day and for the family and friends that continue to grieve for you, I silence my laughter on this day and fill my heart and soul instead with the prayers and songs of those who remember.

You will never be forgotten and we will never forget.

God Bless America.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

One Hundred Days Of Writing...100 Days In...What I Learned Along The Way

It’s after Labor Day, and besides not being able to wear white (not that I have anything white to wear) or go to the local swimming pool (because it closed on August 1 when the kiddos went back to school), it also means that I am nearing the completion of my one hundred days of writing. In fact, when I finish this post I will no longer be nearing the finish line, I will have crossed it.

Hooray for me!

I have thought about what I wanted to write about in this post for several weeks. I could list the breakdown of the words and what got added to which project but my eyes begin to glaze over when I start to talk about numbers and if it bores me then it certainly will bore you, too. No, I’ll leave the numbers to the math teachers and calculators, but all of them do add up to over a 100,000 words (which if you do the math is…well, you know).

Hooray for me!

So that leads me back to the original questions: Why write for one hundred days? What is so special about that? Does anyone care? (All good questions, mind you, and there are probably several more that could be asked but who wants to waste time with that.)

The answer is simple: To prove to myself that I could.

I made a decision to do something and I followed through and accomplished the task. For me, decisions have always been a challenge. Here’s an example: Do I start with a salad at Golden Corral or go straight for the mashed potatoes? (Good Heavens! Why would you even waste any of your stomach space for lettuce and cucumbers when there is macaroni & cheese and ribs to choose from?) 

And rolls! With honey butter!

(Well, maybe I did an okay job on making this decision but it was tough to decide between Ryan’s Buffet and Golden Corral.) Actually, this decision wasn’t difficult either because Ryan’s has closed its doors recently because of a bankruptcy filing.

But, I think you get my drift.

I could go on and on about this and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Someone once told me that you could become paralyzed by the possibilities and not choose anything at all (Personally, I will always choose the mashed potatoes over the roughage, but that’s just me.).

I did more than just write these past 100 days. I also had at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day, most of it being a walk around the outside of my house. It’s a 114 paces around the house and is mostly covered so I tried to walk early in the morning or right before dusk so the heat wouldn’t make me wilt (I don’t like wilted lettuce, either.).

I’ve lost about seven pounds, which isn’t as much as I wanted to but my clothes definitely fit better. I’m even beginning to chip away at the cellulite on my hips that has remained as unmovable as the gridlock in Congress over the last eight years (Be gone with ye, oh patrons of little use.).

Hooray for me!

Another thing I have started doing is keeping an (almost) daily journal. I don’t start each entry with ‘Dear Diary’ but as I have gone back and read over some of my past entries I was surprised at some of the things I had written. Not earth shattering, by any means--some days the entry might only consist of what I had to eat, but I also recorded where I was, who I was with and how I felt. It’s hard to recollect an average summer day, months, if not years in the past if there isn’t a record of it (My memory ain’t what it used to be.). And aren’t ‘average’ days some of the best days that you can have? 

Hooray for me!

Lastly, this challenge wouldn’t be complete without a story about me and my mom and finding help in the most unexpected places. The following is our conversation from a few days ago:

Mom called me:

Me: “Hello?”

Mom: “What are you doing?”

Me: “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you straight to your face.”

Mom: “Hmm. That bad, is it? Are you trying to balance your checkbook again?”

Me: “No. Worse.”

Mom: “You started another low-carb diet?”

Me: “No. But, that’s true, though. Ain’t much worse than that. Except going to a buffet that serves rice instead of potatoes.”

Mom: “You’ve got a point there. So what’s your problem?”

Me: “I’m trying to sew a button back on my favorite shirt.”

Mom: “I thought Jimi Hendrix was your favorite shirt. It doesn’t have any buttons.”

Me: “It doesn’t. I guess it’s my second favorite shirt then.”

Mom: “Oh, I see. So what’s your problem?”

Me: “I can’t thread the needle.”

Mom: “Well, you know I showed you how to do that when you were in 3rd grade.”

Me: “If I still had the eyes of a 3rd grader, I’d be finished by now.”

Mom: “Oh, I’m sorry. That hole is hard to see.”

Me: “Tell me about it. Hold on a sec, there’s someone at the door.”

Mom: “Okay.”

I went to answer the door and returned a few minutes later.

Me: “Guess what?”

Mom: “What?”

Me: “Problem solved.”

Mom: “Who was at the door?”

Me: “I think it was the Jehovah Witness people. I still had the needle and thread in my hand and when I went to accept the literature she was handing out it almost fell out of my hand. I told her I’d been trying to thread the needle all day and you know what she did?”

Mom: “What?”

Me: “She said since I didn’t slam the door in her face and accepted her literature, it was the least she could do and reached into her purse and pulled out an eyepiece that looked like Colonel Klink’s and threaded that needle on the first try.”

Mom: “What about that. That’s my girl. Be kind to everyone. All the time. And one last thing?”

Me: “What’s that?”

Mom: “Be kind to yourself.”

And that, my friends, is the main thing I learned in my one hundred days of writing. That’s why I wrote ‘hooray for me’ several times in this post. I think everyone in life could use more cheerleaders and it must start with you. The last thing I said to my mom before ending that conversation was “You know, Mom, I’m a pretty terrific person.”

Her response couldn’t have been any better unless I had written the words for her. “Sure you are. You’re too hard on yourself. You’re headed in a good direction and keep setting goals for yourself. Just look what you’ve accomplished this summer? Small steps eventually lead to a marathon completed.”

Small steps eventually lead to a marathon completed.

That statement really sums it up for me. Whatever it is that you want to get accomplished can only be achieved one way and that is the decision to start. Just  decide. You can do it.

Hooray for me!

And, hooray for you!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

One Hundred Days Of Writing...90 Days In...It's The Final Countdown

Three months ago, I got the crazy idea that I wanted to spend the summer writing. I had big plans which included finishing the current book I was working on and delving right into the third book in the Middle Trilogy. But as in life, sometimes the finest laid plans can go awry.

Now, it isn't what you think. I'll tell you right off the bat that I have successfully added 90,000 words to the various projects I am working on. I'd hoped to finish off the novel I have been working on for over a year but am stuck in one scene that I can't seem to find my way out of--I know, just go stage left or right, it ain't that hard to figure out. And I will figure it out, when it is time. It's not that I'm not thinking about it because I am. All. The. Time. I'm not going to force it and maybe after I'm through with the one hundred days of writing I'll make my exit.

Last week, Mom and I attended our monthly travel club meeting. I didn't begin travelling with Mom until about four years ago but if you've been following along these last few years, then you'll remember that she has taken several trips of a lifetime to places like Russia, New Zealand and The Grand Canyon.

Earlier this year when the list of trips came out we spent a few weeks poring over the days and details and made our decision. We are taking another bus trip and are headed for the Colorado Rockies for a ten-day excursion. Of course, we'll be making stops along the way and I'm super excited that we will be travelling with some of our friends from last year.

Anyway, at our monthly meetings, we enjoy a potluck meal and go over the upcoming trips to see if there might be somewhere new that we'd like to go. I've been bringing the same dish ever since I started attending the meetings and those are my world-famous deviled eggs (I hope you get to try them one day.) I think about bringing something else but I remember what someone told me at one of the meetings: I've been waiting to get one of these eggs all week. So when someone tells you that, you keep bringing the eggs.

The meeting is very casual and I usually wear a t-shirt and pair of jeans. I usually meet Mom there and I was really surprised when I saw how she was dressed. She was decked out. She had a heather gray suit on and was wearing her fancy white hat. The jacket was short-sleeved and look to be a little large on her but she looked terrific.

We greeted each other from across the room and I went the opposite direction to put my eggs on the counter with the other food. One of the ladies smiled at me and then said."Hey, G., good to see you. Did you see your Mom yet? She looks terrific. Has she been to a funeral?"

I shrugged my head like I didn't know and headed off to talk to Mom. "Hey. You look great. You got your fancy hat on too. You been to a funeral?"

Mom just looked at me strangely. "No. I was just trying on this outfit again to see if it still fits. It's too big for me, don't you think?" she asked showing me how big the jacket was on her.

"It does look too big, but it's a nice color." We enjoyed a good meal and visited with  our friends and it was finally time to call it a night. Mom had made her macaroni and cheese, which is good, but she puts a crust on the top of hers and I prefer mine without. But I wasn't going to let that stop me from taking home the leftovers.

I surprised her by saying that I was going to come spend the night and once we got back to her house she called me into the back  room. "Would you believe that four people asked me if I had been to a funeral today?" she asked.

"Well, you were dressed up more than usual for the travel club meeting." I said.

"Well, that's okay, isn't it? I may be old, but I still like to look good. Just one thing, though: Don't bury me in this suit. It's too big!"

Now you know where I get my sense of humor.

I've got ten days to go in my hundred days of writing. I've written at least a thousand words every day and walked daily for 30 minutes, both of which I didn't think I'd be able to do.

Mom asked if I was going to take a couple days off but I don't think I will. I've gotten used to my "new habits" and I hope it is something that I will continue to do.

That's it for now. I'll give another update around September 9, after I've finished with the one hundred days. But now, I need to go take a walk and try to decide which way to go: Left, right or out the stage door. I'm sure the answer is out there; I just have to keep walking until I find it.

Monday, August 22, 2016

It's My Lucky Day...Year IX

****It's the ninth time around for this post! Can you believe it? I don't know how I am going to top last year's concert to see Joan Jett, but I'm sure I will think of something. Maybe, a big bowl of mashed potatoes and some scratch-off lottery tickets will be just what I need. You can't go wrong with mashed potatoes and I just know that it is my destiny to find the winning one million dollar ticket. I am absolutely sure this is going to be my luckiest day ever!

****It's the eighth time around for this post! Can you believe it? What's really fun is that I am going to see Joan Jett & the Blackhearts at Harrah's Casino. I just know those slot machines will be spinning in my favor.

****It's the seventh 7! time around for this post. LUCKY NUMBER 7! This is it! This is the year I've been waiting for. Seven will be my lucky number. I think I'll buy a bunch of lottery tickets that all have the number seven on them. I just know that this will be my luckiest day ever.

****It's the sixth time around for this post. It's hard to believe I have been blogging for this long. I am absolutely positive that this is going to be my luckiest day ever. I sure have changed a lot in the last year. I'm not really a middle-aged fat woman any more. I'm still middle-aged but not nearly as big as I once was. (I'll wait while you tell me Congratulations!) Anyhow, I'll let you know how it all turns out.

****It's the fifth time around for this post. I'm incredibly excited about the whole month of August this year, not just my lucky day. Super things are happening for me right now so I just know this will be my luckiest day ever!

****It's the fourth time around for this post. I don't even remember what happened last year but I just know that today is my lucky day and the Pythagoreans believed that four was a perfect number. A perfect number for a perfect day!

****It's the third time around for this post. I just know that this will be the luckiest day of the year...Third time's a charm, right?

****This was what I posted last year on my lucky day. It didn't turn out as lucky as I would have wanted. So, I'm giving it another whirl. Maybe, better luck this year...year two!

Today, August 22, is the luckiest day of the year for me. If something exciting is supposed to happen, it usually happens on this day. I can't remember the specific events (okay, maybe I can, but a girl has to have some secrets) but I do know that it was on this date. I do remember that I got my wisdom teeth pulled on this date in 1989. I know that wasn't lucky but I did get to eat mashed potatoes for every meal for a few days. And luckily, my favorite food is mashed potatoes.

I think I am going to try my lucky numbers on the lottery this evening. The problem is that I have to pick five numbers and I only have two: Eight for August and twenty-two for the twenty-second. That means that I will only get two out of five numbers and you don't win anything with just two correct. But, since it is my lucky day, I might get the other three numbers as well. I'm a winner and I didn't even know it.

Now, what am I going to do with all that cash?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

White Men Can’t Jump…A Cherry Fork Road Memory...One Hundred Days…77 Days In…

White Men Can’t Jump.

And apparently middle-aged fat women can’t either.

I used to be able jump higher than the tallest building or at least up to eight feet because that’s how tall the ceiling was in my childhood home growing up on Cherry Fork Road. We did a lot of jumping. I couldn’t pass through a doorway without jumping up and touching the door jamb on my way outside to play with the neighborhood kids.

On more than one occasion I can remember my father yelling after us as we skipped and jumped our way through the circular path that wound its way through the downstairs of our old farmhouse. “Stop running in the house! You’re going to knock something over!”

We never did knock anything over but we usually stopped running (for a while) because you never wanted to make Dad say “Don’t make me come after you,” because he would…and he could catch you because he was the fastest person, young or old in the neighborhood.

Unlike my sister who excelled at standing on her head and turning cartwheels (neither of which I ever mastered) running and jumping were my preferred activities on rainy days and sunny afternoons. It didn’t matter what time of year it was because living on a farm with a huge barn and a beautiful silver maple tree allowed many opportunities for this hyper kid to wear herself out.

In the fall the jumping moved out to the front yard and wasn’t how high we could jump but how high we could climb in the maple tree before safely jumping into the pile of leaves below. I never made it past the bottom most branch because I was never tall enough or if I did happen to reach it on one of my jumps, I wasn’t able to pull myself up. I used to jump off the high side of the tree where a big root jutted up (I’m sure it wasn’t nearly as much fun as jumping from the tree, but I never injured myself either, unlike our neighbor’s cousin, John John, who fell out of the tree and broke his arm. A branch might have broken; I can’t remember for sure.).

Another thing we liked to do as kids was jump from bridges. Why? I have no idea. We jumped from the bridge down by the creek at my house. We jumped off the swinging bridge down in Wamsley, Ohio, population 50, (most of whom are my family and are buried in the cemetery there) that hung across Scioto Brush Creek and as an adult looking back on this feat (because Brush Creek should be called a river) either we were kids and didn’t know what fear was or we were just batshit crazy. (Either way, I’d probably pass out if I even contemplated doing something like that as an adult.) Plus, now I’m afraid of heights and I certainly won’t be climbing anything just to jump off of it.

And we thought about jumping off another swinging bridge when we were in high school but decided we’d just rather party there instead (Although, but I can’t be sure, there might have been some jumping on senior skip day or maybe it was semi-skinny dipping. Age has a way of making things a bit fuzzy).

Also, in the fall basketball practice started and the running and jumping lasted for six months without a break. The goal from the moment I started jumping in the living room was to touch the ceiling. The goal (besides making the team) when I played basketball was to always touch the bottom of the backboard. Eventually, I did touch the ceiling in the living room and the goal after that was to palm the ceiling. In basketball, I gradually worked my way up to getting a running start to touch the bottom of the net and by the end of my senior year I could do a flat-footed jump from directly under the net and touch it. But no matter how hard I tried, I could never touch the bottom of the backboard.

Until one day in my freshman year of college. It was fall and I found myself missing out on my favorite sport so I walked on the team at Wilmington College. During our conditioning program, we lifted weights and it was the first time I had done any serious weightlifting. My leg muscles became more than just thunder thighs, they started to resemble tree trunks (not really, but they were big). One day at practice, or maybe after practice, I can’t remember, some of us started seeing how high we could jump.

“I’ve never been able to touch the backboard,” I said nonchalantly. Looks of disbelief were tossed around like one of the towels we used to wipe our brows off with—I should have let it go, but didn’t. “Nope, I sure haven’t.”

Coach walked over.

“What are you guys talking about?” she asked. One of the players filled her in and the next thing we knew we were all lined up. “Okay,” she said. “You know the rules: everything we do as a team and unless you’re under 5’5”, which none of you are, everyone has to run and touch the backboard. And we’ll keep running until you do. I’ve got all night.”

I’ve never been a big fan of the philosophy: you fail, we all fail. I know there is no I in team, but I had a lot of junk in my trunk even back then, so why punish the whole team because my feet were firmly planted in the ground. After the third time of failing to reach the backboard and the third suicide sprint up and down the court we called a “players only meeting” and met on the opposite end of the court.

We whispered amongst ourselves for a few seconds, mainly catching our breath before the shrill of the whistle sounded again. “Okay ladies, let’s try this again.”

Coach blew the whistle again, but instead of us lining up to wait our turn to jump and touch the backboard, we all ran underneath the rim and the whole team lifted me up. I smacked the backboard as hard as I could several times and the coach looked like she was going to choke on that whistle.
“I did it,” I said, “with the help of my teammates.”

Coach was silent for a moment. “All right,” she said, “that’s enough for now. But I want you to be able to touch it by yourself by the end of the season.” I transferred schools at the end of that fall quarter so I didn't have to worry any longer about the threat of running sprints until I puked. I never did touch the backboard on my own.

What started this trip down memory lane was my (very unsuccessful) attempt to jump up and grab a branch that was hanging over my car. I tried to jump three times and I swear the only thing on me that moved in an upward direction were my rolls of fat. I don’t even think my feet left the ground. Friend laughed so hard at me that she fell off the porch (It was funny!).

 I’m a bit leery of the foliage growing around my car and had a rather large branch fall on top of it several weeks ago. Those limbs were removed but more trimming is needed, but no one can agree on who owns the property where the trees are located, so until they figure it out, I’ll be parking in the front yard.

Or on second thought, I’ll park underneath the basketball hoop—if I stand on top of my car, I might just be able to touch the backboard. (Just don’t ask me to jump up…or down….)

And if you are keeping up with my one hundred days of writing this summer, I am happy to say that as of this writing which is day 77, I have added 77,000 words to my various projects. Only 23 days (and yes, I am counting) to go.


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