Friday, August 31, 2012

From Tacos to Axe Murderers—Summer’s Last 5QF


Welcome to the beginning of the end of summer.  Hard to believe, isn’t it, that this is the official last weekend of the season?  Seems no one passed the word to Mother Nature, though, as we’re scheduled to be back in triple digits for the next few days.  But that’s okay; we’ll go out on a high, and it’ll be nice.

I’ve spent this whole first day of the last weekend with my nose buried in books, though, and I’ve still got some more reading to do, so I’m figuring the holiday weekend will begin officially for me tomorrow.  That’s okay, too.  But since we just finished up dinner, I figured I’d extend my study break just a little bit longer and venture in to this week’s Five Question Friday.  So let’s see what’s in store today . . .

five question friday


1. What do you enjoy doing the most with your spouse?

We don’t really have a special tradition or something that’s just us, mostly it’s just hanging out, watching TV, running errands, whatever.  And I always like that, just being together for normal stuff.  There were many years of our marriage where we worked totally opposite shifts, and only saw each other on the weekends.  And there were even more years that even our weekends weren’t in synch and we’d just have random days to be together.  If there’s been an up side to being out of work, it’s that we’ve been able to be home together every night, and had every weekend free to do whatever we wanted.

2. How do you eat your taco? From the top or from the side?

Let me first say that I love tacos.  Been eating them all my life, and they may well be my favorite food, if I ever had to really pick.  Fortunately, I don’t have to really pick my very favorite, but tacos are for sure in the top five.  But, all that being said, I’ve never considered the directions of a taco.  I’ll assume that the top is the open side, right?  In that case, I eat from the side first.  But usually that bite won’t encompass the full depth of the taco, so then the top and bottom are uneven, at which point I have to eat the top bite off so that I can go back to the side.  So, really, it’s probably an alternating thing—side, top, side top.  Incidentally, when I make tacos, I layer my cheese for this particular reason, so that I will have cheese in every bite I take.  And, guess what?  We’re having some tacos tomorrow, which is good, because now I want some of that crunchy goodness, even though I just had nachos for dinner.

3. Have you ever shut off the basement light and ran like a fool because you knew someone was down there and would get you?

Well, we don’t have basements around here, but I get the idea.  I’ve long been a believer of the boogey man/axe murderer, so I’m pretty sure if we did have basements, I wouldn’t want to spend a lot of time down there. Dark and isolated is a bad combination.  When I used to work nights and get home so late, I would pull into the garage and sit in my car, doors locked, eyes glued to the review mirror, until the garage door finally got closed behind me and it was safe to leave my cocoon and go into the house.  Now that I think about it, I think I’m really glad we don’t have basements.

4. If you could change one thing about you what would it be and why?

Wow, there’s a lot to choose from!  But mostly, I’ve always wished I was more gregarious, not so shy.  When I was young, I’d say I was what folks would call “painfully shy”.  My many, many years of customer service work, along with, you know, just living, have improved that situation greatly.  But being around strangers (or even large groups of friends for very long), speaking in public, working closely with people I don’t know well—none of those things really come easily for me, even now.  I think I’d choose that as my one change.

5. What age do you think is appropriate to have the "bird and the bees" talk with your children?

I don’t think there’s a magic age; it’s very circumstantial based on the individual and what’s going on with them.  My mom was a nurse, so discussing any physical manifestation of anything was always easy for her.  Her philosophy—and the one I pretty much adopted—was, if the kid is old enough to ask, they’re old enough to be told.  Now, they might ask really deep questions at an age where they couldn’t possibly understand the full, unadulterated truth, but I think their questions should always be answered as truthfully as possible, at whatever level of detail would be appropriate at the time.  I don’t think they should ever hear “I’ll tell you when you’re older”, especially these days, when a curious child is just going to wait until the parent isn’t around and then Google whatever they’re wondering about.  For myself, I’d rather be the one to provide the information than leave it up to the great, world wide web. 

So that’s it for this week; thanks for coming along for the ride again.  I’ll get back to hitting the books now, but don’t mind me; you can still tell me all about your own answers, or link up below, but you know the drill:  leave me a note to say you’re playing along.  You know I like to know what others think.  Oh, and do have a happy last weekend of summer.

Thirsty Thursday


I’m going to tell you today about one of my biggest pet peeves.  It’s so annoying to me that probably all of my family, friends, and even Facebook friends could tell you about it.  I’m not usually one for just griping about tiny little things, so for me to fuss and post about it so much, you know it must really grate on my last nerve.

So what, you ask, is this earth-shattering affront to common decency?  Verbal abuse to customer service workers?  Drivers littering out their car windows?  Kicking a puppy?  Nope.  Certainly all of those things are horrid, but I’m not sure any of them have ever warranted a single status update.  (Well, maybe the verbal abuse one; I did work in customer service a long time.)

No, the thing that really ticks me off is when people order food at a Sonic drive through window. 

sonic 8-31-12

                                                                           Image credit: boutmuet photostream

For those of you not fortunate enough to be familiar with Sonics, I’ve included a picture to help you get the idea.  See, it’s a drive-in.  It says it, right on their signs:  Sonic, America’s Drive-In.  You pull up, you order, you eat.  All in your car.  Or you take it home with you.  But—and I can’t emphasize this enough—it’s a drive in.  If you want to get fancy, you park and go sit on the patio.  But dining in isn’t an option.  (Okay, that’s not entirely true.  Every once in a while you’ll run across a store that actually has a dining room.  I’ve only ever seen two, and I’ve been to Sonics in a lot of different places.)

But, back to the point.  The drive through window is actually a fairly new option for Sonic—maybe within the last 5 to 8 years, I’d guess.  When they first started having them, I was very excited, because I thought it would speed up the process of getting my daily Coke fix.  (I don’t do that anymore, but it used to be the highlight(s) of the day.)  And I wasn’t alone.  Many people I spoke with were also thrilled that it would now be even easier/quicker to get their drinks on the way in to work.  (You’d be surprised how many people around here can’t make it through the workday without a Sonic beverage; their cups are like part of the office landscape.)  But that’s where the peeve comes in.  Because when people order food at the drive through window, rather than just drinks, it slows down the line.  Now everyone has to wait for some guy’s burger to get grilled up before they can get their own cherry vanilla Dr. Pepper.  And it’s annoying.

Some folks say to me, “What’s the difference? You wait at other drive throughs.”  And, they are correct.  But, first of all, there is no other drive through where it’s just as common—more common even—to order just drinks rather than a meal.  And there is no other drive through that I go to for just a drink.  Ever.  But, the most important thing is the difference in ordering options.  You see, if I go to McDonald’s, my only options are to either go inside or go to the drive through.  Maybe I am not dressed for being seen in public, even at McDonald’s.  Or maybe it’s raining, and I don’t want to get out of the car.  There are any number of reasons I might choose to go to the drive through rather than go inside, and I never begrudge anyone that right.  No matter how much food you order at the McDonald’s drive through window, you won’t find me griping about it.  But at Sonic, you have other options.  You never have to go in.  Even if you don’t want to get wet, or have on the most tattered clothes you’ve ever seen, you can stay in the privacy of your car and still not hold up the folks trying to get their favorite Route 44 at the drive through.  And how are you able to manage this remarkably considerate feat?  Say it with me, folks:  it’s a drive in.

So that’s my pet peeve for the day.  And why today?  Well, because, of course, I got stuck behind a foodie just this evening.  After school.  And after stopping to grab some groceries at Wal-Mart.  So I was tired.  And I had ice cream melting in my car.  And I just wanted to swing through Sonic quickly and go home.  Instead, I sat there for 6 or 7 minutes at least, waiting on my drink.  And while 7 minutes isn’t long, it’s at least three times as long as it should’ve taken, all because some guy wouldn’t pull into a stall to order his food from the comfort of his car.  So, please, do me a favor:  if you’re going to get food from Sonic, park your car.  Push the button, order your meal, and let a friendly car-hop bring it out to you.  Don’t hold up the line of folks just trying to get a drink and get on their way.  I might be one of them. 

Any totally petty pet peeves that really just tick you off?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

G is for Gobsmacked


Doctor Tardis 8-30-12

I think I might’ve said before that I don’t really have “guilty pleasures” in terms of my TV viewing, since I don’t really watch anything that I consider so inherently bad in any way that I shouldn’t be watching it.  But, one of the programs I do take some grief over is Doctor Who.  Mostly I think that’s because a lot of people only think of older episodes with goofy looking aliens, and they don’t go much beyond that.  But that’s like only remembering the original Star Trek for the Horta, or something.  Sure, it’s cheap special effects, but that is so not what the show is about. 

But, I’m not here to convince you that Doctor Who is worth tuning in to, though it certainly is.  No, I’m here to say that one of the things that I always enjoy when watching it is hearing some of the British expressions and turns of phrase.  It’s always been interesting to me how American and British English are so close and yet still so far apart.  Subtle little changes that give a language character.

Of course, you’ve got the normal substitutions that we’re all pretty accustomed to:  loo instead of bathroom, petrol rather than gas, lift for elevator.  When I was a kid, those were some of the earliest “Britishisms” I learned, and they always made me laugh.  I’m also still fond of the way they say “brilliant” where we Americans might say “awesome”, and “spot on” instead of our more mundane “precisely”. 

I’ve been watching quite a few rerun episodes of the Doctor this past week or so, as BBC America tries to get us all excited about the upcoming new season beginning this weekend (it worked for me), so I’ve had occasion to hear a few.  None of them were entirely new to me, which maybe means I really have spent too much time watching the adventures of the wandering Time Lord, but they’re still entertaining to me, just the same, and I thought I’d share a few with you.

NutterCrazy.  As in, “I think people who believe in alien life are all nutters.”

Bits and bobs: Little bits of this and that.  “What say we pop over to Saturn and pick up some bits and bobs?”

WhingeComplain. “So we’re stuck in a time loop again; quit your whingeing.”

Bollocks:  Seems to have a few uses, but I like nonsense.  “A 900 year old man travelling through space and time in a police box? Now you’re just talking bollocks.”

Gobsmacked: Jaw-droppingly amazed.  “The Doctor dances? I’m gobsmacked.”

Those are just a few of the expressions I’ve enjoyed recently.  And the thing that I love best about them is that we share enough language that they all make perfect sense in context, even if it is the first time you’ve heard them.  Well, that and the fact that I just think they’re kind of fun. 

So, if you want to have a bit of a grin, spend an afternoon tuned in to BBCA (most any show will do, though I am certainly partial to the Doctor), and see what kind of words you can learn.  I think you’ll be glad you did.

And, if you want to take a gander at an entire gaggle of G posts, do graze the entries over at ABC Wednesday.  You’ll be gobsmacked at the good things you’ll find.



Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Birthday Flashback


david soul 8-28-12

                                                               Image Credit:

I happened to see on the web that today is David Soul’s birthday.  Since I’ve often confessed my life-long love of television in general, and buddy shows in particular, it’s probably not much of a surprise that this tidbit of news caused of flood of memories of the 70s action show variety.

For those too young to recognize the name, Soul was one half of the acting duo that brought us the classic buddy cop show, Starsky & Hutch.  As Detective Ken Hutchinson, we watched him for four years alongside Paul Michael Glaser (Detective David Starsky) as they policed the streets of Bay City, California, busting bad guys, flirting with pretty girls, and having far more car chases than would be considered politically correct today. 

It was a different time back then, and if you happen to watch the episodes now, I can’t say they don’t feel a little dated, but, man, I loved that show.  I still pop in a DVD now and again just to relive the glory days of buddy shows.  I think Netflix has the discs available, if you feel like seeing what TV was like in the good old days. 

But, back to David Soul.  He’s 69 today.  Wow.  The last time I saw him was in a cameo at the end of the feature film reboot (nothing at all like the original series, but amusing in its own right), so I get that he’s aging.  But I realized today he was born the same year as my mother; I never realized that when I was a kid—never felt like I was crushing on an someone old enough to be my parent.  He was just cool.  That was enough for me then—and now. 

So, happy birthday to one of the fond memories of my youth, with wishes for many more to come.

Any celebrities or TV shows that bring back good memories for you?

Learning to Sail My Ship


rough sailing 8-28-12

                                                                                  Image Credit: cseward

“I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning how to sail my ship.”

                                                                                  ~ Louisa May Alcott

So, I’ve gotten the first week of school behind me now, and my return to academia has been both easier and harder than I might’ve imagined.  Though even the easy parts have not come without some adjustment, and a little bit of rocking the boat through some rough waters. 

One of my biggest concerns going in was the age factor, though, as I mentioned last week, that part wasn’t as bad as I’d feared.  Since there were some other older students in my classes, and since most of the young ones weren’t just barely graduated from high school, I didn’t feel like an old granny sitting in a rocker, or anything.  So, I think I can cross that one off my worry list, a storm that never came to pass.

One of my other major concerns, though, was if I’d be able to get myself back into student mode and actually keep up, or if it would all turn out to be too hard.  I don’t think the material itself is going to be all that much of a challenge.  In fact, I’ve discovered an actual benefit to a life of avid television viewing: there has yet to be a legal term bandied about in the classroom that I’m not already familiar with.  Granted, I’m certain the lawyer shows don’t always apply the concepts with 100% accuracy, but they usually get the basic foundation right.  Bonus. 

But while the actual work may not be difficult, this first week has seemed fairly hectic, trying to make all the pieces fall into place.  I’ve read a few chapters of various textbooks, jotted down countless notes, churned out a couple of assignments, taken a few short quizzes, and outlined a paper that will have to be completed before Friday.  So far, it’s going okay, and the schoolwork is on schedule, but I’ve been tired, haven’t been exercising as I should be, and—like now—it’s been pretty late in the day before I’ve been able to sit down and write my blog post.  And, yes, I know, the blog is definitely a lower priority than school, but I think it’s still an indicator.  I don’t want to sacrifice every other aspect of my life.  Oh, and did I mention I’m still looking for work?  So as hectic as it seems right now, it will only be magnified once I actually become employed again.  That could turn out to be a storm of hurricane proportions. 

Still, I hope think this is just an early adjustment phase.  Another week or so and it’ll all come much more naturally, right?  The waters will surely once again provide smooth sailing.  For now, that’s my theory, and I’m sticking to it.  I really am excited about the idea of learning a new trade, and immersing myself into a field that has always fascinated me, so I definitely don’t want to focus on the negative, just trying to assess things realistically.  They say that you start to lose a step here and there as you grow older, and I know that I see that in myself in little parts of my life sometimes.  I guess for now, it’s just a matter of waiting to see how things go as the semester progresses, and riding out any storms as they come along. 

In the meantime, I’ll try to stay optimistic until I have actual reasons to believe I’m in over my slowly graying head.  And I’ll keep learning how to sail. 


Monday, August 27, 2012

Snapshot Sunday #4


When I began Snapshot Sunday, the plan was to try it out for the month of August, and then decide if it would be continued.  Well, the jury is still out on whether it will be continued for the long term, but there will definitely be at least one more installment next week.  Why?  Because there’s almost a full week of August daily photos left to snap, so there’ll be at least one more Sunday round up of those pictures.

As for photo a day, the jury is also still out on whether I will continue participating after this month.  As I’ve said many times, I really do enjoy it, but I am currently days behind on posting my photos.  They’ve all been taken, and even edited (well, today’s pic is still unreviewed, but it has at least been taken), but then I didn’t do anything else with them.  I don’t want it to get to the point where picture taking feels like just one more task to mark off a list every day, so we’ll have to see how it goes.  For now, though, let’s see what last week held . . .

19.  Hole

  Prompt:  Hole.  I’ve had this set of kitchen knives for probably close to twenty years.  Sometime in the past few months, one of the steak knives disappeared, so now there’s a single unfilled hole, mocking me every day.

20.  Today



  Prompt:  Today.  First official day of the semester, devoted to my online courses, including political science.



21.  Cool



  Prompt:  Cool.  Pineapple island breeze slush from Sonic.  Sort of like a virgin piña colada, though light on the coconut.  But it’s icy and cool, and plenty tasty.



22.  Home



  Prompt:  Home.  The view from my driveway on a warm, sunny evening. 




23.  Pair


  Prompt:  Pair.  A pair of taillights in front of me while I sit in traffic heading home after class.


24.  Path



  Prompt:  Path.  In my yard, the path leading to our shed.




25.  Fresh



  Prompt:  Fresh.  Freshly baked bread we had with lunch Saturday, at Saltgrass Steakhouse.



So that’s the daily prompts this week; what else was going on this week?  Well, in truth, not much.

There were some clouds I thought looked pretty cool . . .

Clouds Collage





These were from several different days, including Saturday, when we did get a nice big rain during the night.












Brian and I had to spend a bit of time working on Billy’s car . . .

Work on car



  In truth, my role was mostly that of light-holder and tool-grabber, but I was still spent several hours out in the 90° heat (with humidity of at least 90% to boot), leaning over a dirty car, so I’m taking credit for it!









Of course, there were plenty of visits from feathered friends . . .

Bird join the party 

I think Brian has finally succeeded in keeping the squirrels off the feeder, but they sure are scratching up that pole trying their little hearts out anyway!  But now there’s plenty of food available for the birds to have a party.






   The cardinals usually get the place to themselves, because they run everybody else off.

And, yesterday, the day the world lost Neil Armstrong, you know I had to take a picture of the moon, even if I didn’t really have the right lens for the job . . .

My Moon

And that’s about it, my week in pictures.  Feel free to tell me a bit about your week, too, won’t you?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Six Word Goodbye


RIP Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong

                                                                                                                                     Image Credits:  NASA



  Play along at ShowMyFace, or leave me your six words in the comments.

The Writer’s Life for Me (Comfy Clothes and All)


Wow, running a little late on this one, as it’s technically fifteen minutes into Saturday already.  My head is swimming with articles and amendments to the Constitution, structures of governments, and rights of citizens.  But I took a break to watch a little TV, and now I’m going to get down to Five Question Friday.  Then I’ll get back to the studying.

five question friday

1. If you could have been (could be) any profession you wanted (brains and $$$ no problem) what would it be?

No question, I’d be a novelist.  I don’t know when I first had the urge to write a book, but it was a really long time ago, and it hasn’t left me yet.

2. How often do you clean out your car?

As rarely as possible; usually only when I know I’m going to need to transport additional people and/or cargo, so I have to make room.  So, a word to the wise: never ask me for a ride unexpectedly, as I will most likely have to tell you no.

3. Do you wish there was such a thing as fashion police or are you deeply relieved?

Absolutely relieved, as I’m sure repeat offenders such as myself would ultimately end up in fashion prison, where they’d force you to be all glammed up, with accessories and coordinating shoes.  That would definitely be cruel and unusual punishment.  And, which branch of the government would they fall under, anyway?

4. What's your go to food/drink/activity when stressed?

Food:  Mexican, from my very favorite place, Ted’s Café Escondido.  Drink:  A giant Coke from Sonic.  Activity:  Blast the radio and dance and sing like a mad woman.

5. If you had twins, what would you name them?

Hmm.  I never even considered the possibility of twins, so I don’t know.  I do know I’ve never been keen on twins who have matching names, so I wouldn’t do that to them (though I’m actually sort of fond of the idea of Michael/Matthew).  But, any boy I had was destined to be a William, so if he’d had a twin, they probably would’ve been named Matthew or . . . Hmm again.  I also never really considered the possibility of a girl, though I don’t know why.  Maybe Elizabeth or Melissa. 

Well, that was light and easy this week.  No controversy, no deep dark secrets.  And, no more excuse not to go read a few more pages of poli-sci before bed, I suppose.  If you want to play along, link up with Mama M over at her page, but please do let me know so I can drop by and visit.  Or, as always, answer any/all that strike your fancy in the comments; I’m always interested to hear what others have to say.

Have a good weekend, everybody!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Where Are the Moderates?


As I think I’ve said before, you aren’t typically going to find me talking a lot about political issues.  Even with (or maybe especially with) a major election looming, I’m not going to have a lot to say about what’s going on in the political spectrum.  There are a couple of reasons this is true. 

First, because while I have opinions about many things, I don’t really consider myself well-versed enough in a lot of issues to provide a well-rounded discussion, and the last thing I want to do is add to the insanity.  And, second, because, honestly, it’s just not all that much fun to talk about.  If you believe the political ads, the country is essentially doomed no matter who gets elected, and who wants to spend a bunch of time focusing on that?

But, for just a minute, I want to briefly say that I do worry about the fate of the good ol’ US of A.  I worry that my son won’t have the same opportunities I’ve had, and forget about his kids.  And the problem, as I see it, is that so many of those in positions of power have become far too extreme.  Or maybe they’ve always been that way, and improved media coverage just makes it easier to recognize.  I don’t know.  

What I do know, is that every day I read headlines from political entities that are just plain crazy over-zealous.  This week alone, I’ve heard of people who think that a woman can somehow physiologically prevent conception if she happens to be “legitimately” raped, that we need to prepare for battles in the streets should our sitting president be re-elected, and that we should just go ahead and dive off this “fiscal cliff” we’ve been tiptoeing around, because it would all work out for the best in the long run.  I think over-zealous is putting it mildly.

What I believe is that the problems of the masses are rarely solved by extremists at either end of a spectrum.  What I believe is that this entire country is facing difficulty, and we need to find a way to work together to get things headed in the right direction again.  So, I ask: where are all the moderate thinking people in power?  I’m certain they are out there, hidden under flurries of partisan busy work.  I wish they would step up and make themselves known. 

I’m a frustrated American, and I approved this message.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

F is for First Day


First, a little bit of business, because we can never forget that F is also for foolishness.  For the second time since I’ve been using the CommentLuv app here on the blog, all of the comments from a particular post have disappeared, somehow erasing even the platform itself and causing the post to revert back to the default Blogger comment system.  Talk about annoying.  In both cases, the first comment left following this disappearing act (and, I believe, the cause of the problem) was spam.  The first one was a little bit iffy.  The linking site was not my type of blog—clearly only out for the money—but I figured to each their own.  The comment was mostly applicable, so I gave them the benefit of the doubt.  Today, though, even the Blogger comment filter caught the trouble-maker. 

I am not sure what happens to cause the comment platform to revert back to default and erase everyone’s lovely comments, but I am sorry to all of you who may have seen your kind notes disappear.  Trust me, I wouldn’t do it on purpose. 

Spam 8-22-12

                                                                                     Image credit: LaurelRusswurm

So, in an effort to prevent this happening again, I have enabled a spam filter that I hope will solve the problems.  I don’t really want to move to moderation (I don’t know about you, but I like knowing my comment got posted before I leave the site), so I’m giving this a try first.  I think it should be seamless for you guys, but please let me know if it causes any sorts of problems in commenting. 

Enough about filtering out the foolishness; let’s move on.

As the title says, the real F today is for first day, as in, of school.  As I mentioned yesterday, last night began my on-campus classes for this semester.  I also have two online classes, which officially began Monday, but that somehow didn’t seem like a real first day, even though I checked in and did some course work.  (I probably should be doing some more of that course work now, but that’s a whole other conversation.)

Rose State                 RSC

Anyway, I definitely had some nerves going into the first day of classes, but it seemed to go as well as it could.  The evening did start off with some tension, though, because of traffic on the way.  There are a few ways to get from my house to the campus, but none of them are particularly direct.  I took the way I knew for sure—straight highway—because I figured it would be the least likely to cause me any undue stress on day one.  Sadly, I had not considered the amount of traffic I might run into, and the allotted driving time that I thought would put me in class 20-30 minutes early really only gave me about 10 minutes to spare.  Barely time enough to find a bathroom and then the classroom!  I think I was there about two minutes before the instructor showed up.  I had not intended to cut it so close.  (Especially since I was trying to finish up a short blog post!)

Of my fears going in, it’s too soon to know if it’ll turn out to be too hard, or if I’ll really enjoy it.  As you might expect, there was really no work done last night, just general housekeeping agenda items.  But, it is not too soon to consider whether or not I am too old.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were a few other older students in my classes, though I’m willing to bet that I was still the upper age limit—older even than one of the professors!  Of course, most of them were significantly younger than I, but only a few seemed to be straight out of high school, baby-faced kids, so I’m considering that a plus.  I think that’s one of the definite advantages to both community college and night class.  It skews to a slightly older demographic, even if still not quite as old as me.

The jury is also still out on the professors.  I don’t think you can judge much when all they’re doing is covering a syllabus and giving you the basic lay of the land.  Neither of them immediately come across as insufferable or clueless, so yay for that.   One of them does seem a little flighty and easily flustered, and one tells bad jokes, but I don’t think either of those things is a deal breaker. 

After class, I scoped out the campus a little more, found more appropriate parking than I’d used last night, and stopped by the gym to see how crowded I can expect it to be at that time of night.  If last night was typical, then the answer is not crowded at all, for which I’m grateful.  I want to hit the treadmill tomorrow after class, so I’ll have to go in a bit early to make sure my ID card will allow me access.  I didn’t know I had to do that, and I couldn’t actually get in last night, but could only peek through the windows.  There’s also a pool, which I didn’t know.  I’m not a huge swimming fan (rarely even get in my own), but in a month or two, when it’s getting cold out and my muscles are feeling old and creaky, a nice heated swim might feel really good.  I’ll definitely be checking out the lowdown on the aquatic center, just in case. 

And, one other thing came up last night that has gotten me just a little bit excited.  I’m trying not to get my hopes up too much, until I get some more information, but . . .  You see, as I might’ve said before, this is not the first time I’ve enrolled in college.  Before, I’d go a semester or two and then something would come up or I’d lose interest, or whatever.  Anyway, point is, I never finished a degree, which is something I’ve always regretted.  In fact, when I was choosing which school to attend for my paralegal training, one of the main reasons I chose the community college 35 miles, away rather than the university that’s just down the road from me, is because it was the place I could end my studies with an associate’s degree, rather than just a certificate.  One more check mark off the bucket list.

But last night, in part of the general housekeeping spiel, one of the instructors was talking about a slogan they use at the college:  Finish What You Start. (Hey, another F!).  He was talking about the folks who start their education at the community college, then after a couple of years of general education, transfer to a major university before completing their actual degree.  All well and good if you go ahead and get your bachelor’s degree from the university, but, what if life gets in the way, and you end up with 60 some odd hours of college credit (or more) but still don’t have a degree?  Lots of time, energy, and money spent with not much concrete to show for it, because you can never say you graduated.

Since I’ve been job hunting this year, and found myself ineligible for jobs I am fully capable of doing, this really hit home for me.  The professor was right; nobody cares that I have almost 60 credit hours of college course work.  Without a degree to go along with it, I might just as well have never gone.  Now, obviously, there are all sorts of other reasons to attend school, not the least of which is simply the joy of learning.  But from a job market perspective, you don’t have a lot to show for yourself just because you acquired some knowledge. 

At any rate, following a short conversation with the professor after class, I came right home and looked up the graduation requirements for a liberal studies degree.  Now, this is the part where I’m trying to reign in my excitement, because I could be giving myself credit for transfer classes that the college won’t consider applicable.  But, if I’ve calculated it correctly, when I finish this semester, I should have enough hours to qualify for a liberal studies degree already!  How cool would that be?  If that could work out, then when I completed the paralegal training, I’d have two degrees.  Yeah, I think that would be very cool.  I’ve dashed off a couple of emails to advisors, hoping someone can tell me if I’m looking at things correctly, so now I’m just waiting to hear back from them.  Heck, even if I was only another class short (which I could be, depending on some transfer guidelines), I wouldn’t mind picking up another internet course this semester, just to get it done.  Of course, that would have to happen quickly, so I could get enrolled if necessary, and my experience with the school so far is that they don’t really move fast for much of anything, but it could happen.

Anyway, like I said, I’m trying not to get too far ahead of myself and set myself up for some disappointment if it doesn’t come to pass, but it’s definitely something worth thinking about.

Okay, I really ought to wrap this up now, before this post takes up more time than my actual first day at school.  I didn’t really mean to ramble on so, but thanks for sticking with me.  And if you want to find out about even more fabulous Fs, find your way on over to ABC Wednesday, and see what’s going on with those fine folks.  There’s sure to be something to fit your fancy.




Tuesday, August 21, 2012

School Daze

So, my on-campus classes begin tonight and I have to admit I'm a little bit nervous. I've got all these first day jitters running through my head. What if I can't do it? What if I don't like it? What if I'm too old? And, I'll even admit a little bit of but what if I don't fit in? Of course it occurs to me now that sitting in the classroom and blogging about the first day of school is probably not the best way to go about fitting in.

Still, it's exciting beginning something new, even if I am a little bit nervous about it. It's exciting being around new people, exciting to be learning something that I've been interested in for really long time, exciting just to be out of the house for a while! I think it's a very good thing.

There'll be more to come tomorrow, and I'll tell you all about the first day and all the amusing (or not so much amusing) details that go on as this 40 something-year-old tries to make her way in the college world. For tonight, just wish me luck.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

My Take: The Odd Life of Timothy Green


Timothy Green

Something new for today.  At least, I think it’s new.  I don’t think I’ve ever done a movie review, though I have been known to go on about a particular television show.  But, over the weekend, I had an opportunity to se The Odd Life of Timothy Green, so I thought I’d tell you a little bit about it.

First, I should just tell you my bias right up front: I love Disney films.  Lately, Brian and I don’t see all that many movies (there are fewer and fewer that seem worth the rising cost), but as soon as I saw the trailer for this one, I knew I’d have to be there.  Brian doesn’t have any strong feelings one way or the other about Disney films—as long as they aren’t animated—but he usually indulges me my whims.  Even when we end up being among the handful of adults unaccompanied by children, he doesn’t usually complain.  Much. 

You won’t find any spoilers here (though, come on, it’s a Disney film; if you can’t tell where it’s going from the commercials alone, you’ll get it in the first fifteen minutes or so), but for those of you who aren’t familiar with the movie, let me give you the basic synopsis:  Cindy and Jim Green (Jennifer Garner –who I loved in Alias—and Joel Edgerton) are trying to adopt a child because they’ve been unable to have their own.  The story is told in primarily a flashback sequence as they try to convince the adoption officials that they’ll be good parents.  To prove their case, they tell the tale of Timothy.

Timothy (relative newcomer CJ Adams) came into their lives the night their fertility doctor had finally told them they had to give up, sprung up miraculously in the middle of the night, grown from all of the dream characteristics they had for their never-to-be-born child.  So, yeah, you have to suspend the disbelief pretty much right off the bat, even more so as the tale continues and they never really have to explain Timothy’s presence.  Just let it go.

And, if showing up fully formed—well, as formed as a 10 year old can be—isn’t unusual enough for you, it doesn’t take the new parents long to notice that their unexpected son has leaves growing from his legs.  Yes, leaves.  But don’t bail out on me now.  From this odd set of circumstances grows a lovely story of individuality, friendship, family, and love. 

Timothy has been thrust into a family like any other; it’s got some tension.  Cindy has a subtle but long-standing rivalry with her sister, Brenda (Rosemarie DeWitt).  Jim has deep-seated confidence problems stemming from a disapproving father (David Morse).  Both the Greens work for members of the town’s snooty founding family, the Crudstaffs, leading to various types of occupational stress.  And, like any birth, having a new child around begins to illuminate these problems.  Not to mention that Jim and Cindy are trying to learn how to be parents to a pre-teen newborn. 

Garner and Edgerton do a good job as the loving, if sometimes clueless, parents.  The supporting cast is good, too, though they seem to get short-shrift, especially the Crudstaff family, portrayed by Dianne Wiest, Ron Livingston, and James Rebhorn (he’s most recently in White Collar, so you know I’m always glad to see him!).  We don’t see them nearly enough.  In fact, my major complaint about this movie is that the characters and the relationships aren’t quite developed enough.  Instead, we see just glimpses of of what could be, and get the broad-strokes of how the relationships have formed the characters that we see today.  Even though the movie is two hours long (125 minutes, to be precise), it seems like it could’ve used a bit more time.  Though, of course, remember that the vast majority of the audience probably doesn’t have an attention span much longer than that, nor are they probably interested in too much character back-story, so I guess it’s understandable. 

The one place that the whole less-is-more idea really works, though, is in the relationship between Timothy and his older girlfriend, Joni (Odeya Rush).  Finding each other through mutual childhood isolation, they become best of friends, accepting each other without question, and creating a world all their own.  Really, it’s pretty beautiful.

So, to sum up:  If you’re looking for edge of your seat pacing, you’re in the wrong place.  And if you want intricately plotted suspense, you can probably skip it.  But if you’re looking for just a touch of the old Disney magic, then load up the family (even if it’s just adults) and go.  This movie will make you laugh, though not in a riotous, side-splitting way.  And it’ll make you cry, though not a lot—just enough.  Mostly, though, in true Disney fashion, it will make you feel good.  And I always think that’s worth the price of admission.

If you’ve seen this movie, what did you think?  And if you haven’t, do you plan to?




Sunday, August 19, 2012

Snapshot Sunday #3


Welcome to Sunday!  It’s been a pretty low-key week for me, mostly just hanging out, feeling whatever I was feeling, and getting myself mentally prepared to begin school next week.

Now that the weekend is winding down, it’s time for the weekly round up of pictures recently known as Snapshot Sunday, so let’s get to it, shall we?

First, the daily entries for Photo A Day:

12.  Spoon


  Prompt:  Spoon.  The spoon here is pretty ordinary, but what it’s in?  Skinny Cow ice cream is yummy!




13.  Simple


  Prompt: Simple.  There is nothing simpler than some chocolate chip cookies made from ready to go cookie dough.  Not much better, either.

14.  Arrow


  Prompt:  Arrow.  Lots of arrows while paying for a drink at my favorite place, Sonic.

15.  Ready



  Prompt:  Ready.  Dinner is ready.  I had intended to shoot the casserole dish full of the chicken breasts all nice and juicy out of the oven, but dinner was late that night, and I was in a hurry to get it dished up—almost forgot to snap a picture at all!

16.  Food



  Prompt:  Food.  Yeah, we’re a bit of a pre-packaged family.  Not the healthiest choice, I will grant you, but pretty darn tasty.

17.  Faces


  Prompt:  Faces.  Three of my favorite faces, Brian, Tanya, and Taylor.  Posing for me after my birthday dinner at Olive Garden.

18.  Inside



  Prompt: Inside.  Inside the theater yesterday, waiting to see The Odd Life of Timothy Green.  I thought it was really good.

Fun, as always, deciding what to use for the daily prompts.  If you want to join in the fun, be sure to check out Fat Mum Slim.

As for the rest of the week . . .

Stars 1   

   This past weekend brought the annual Perseids meteor shower.  I set my alarm for about 3:00 Sunday morning, only to go outside and find the sky covered in clouds. I’d been out about five minutes when it actually started to rain.  It didn’t rain hard or long, but there was no point in waiting it out, because the clouds stayed behind.  I called it a night.


Stars 2


I tried it again Sunday night/Monday morning with better luck.  Clear skies and not a drop of rain.  However, I did discover I have neither the skills nor the equipment to photograph shooting stars that could appear from any direction and at any time.  Still, it was a beautiful night, and I saw 22 of the meteors while I was out there.

Cardinals on birdbath



The area of our yard I like to call the “bird resort” is still a popular photo object for me, especially when the cardinals come to visit.


Rain Trees


    And, finally, to end the week,  some much-needed rain. 

What did your week look like?  Tell me all about it in the comments.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Six Word Two-Fer



Last free weekend before school begins.

I put this together last night, then woke up this morning to a glorious sight: cloudy weather!  So was born the two-fer.


At long last, we’re getting rain! 



Check out other six word contributions over at ShowMyFace.



What six words describe your life today?

Friday, August 17, 2012

5 Question Friday—The Birthday Edition


Welcome to Friday, folks!  In today’s news, it’s my birthday; I’ve got one more year until I hit the big 50.  I’m wondering what sort of major life events I can chalk up in the next 365 days, to complete my list of Things Accomplished in the First Half Century of My Life.  I hope you’ll stay with me on the journey, just to see what’s going on.

Tonight, Brian and I will be going to dinner with my sister to celebrate (I haven’t decided where yet; any suggestions?).  I’m recovering from a drippy head cold, so Brian has already texted to see if I’m up to going out this evening.  I doped up on some nighttime medicine to sleep last night, so I think I am now sufficiently dried up to be seen in public.  I was hoping Billy would be able to join us, but turns out he beat me in the finding a job department.  He used to be a server at Zio’s (if they’re near you, check them out; they’re pretty yummy!) before he went to California, and he’s returning to work there, starting today.  He’s not thrilled with the idea, but at least he recognizes the importance of bringing in an income.  I wish the timing could’ve been better, but employment is more critical than a birthday dinner.

But, the very next thing on the agenda is this week’s round of Five Question Friday, hosted, as always, by Mama M.  Okay, so it’s not exactly earth shattering, or waiting to be marked off of any kind of list, but life should also be filled with the simple things that are just sort of fun, right?  Right.  So let’s see what we can find out today.

five question friday

1. What's the one thing you buy every time you walk into the store?

Well, I’ve thought and thought, but I really don’t think there’s anything. I’ll admit that I don’t mind strolling around a big mall every now and again just to browse, but I’m not really all that much of a shopper, and not any sort of trinket that I simply can’t pass by, or anything that I’m so addicted to that I never leave a shop without it. 

2. If you had a day all to yourself how would you spend it?

I actually have a bunch of days all to myself pretty routinely, and it’s not always all it’s cracked up to be.  But, if you mean a whole day with literally no responsibilities to do whatever I wanted . . . I might see if I could find a spa for a massage, walk around a pretty park to take some pictures, have lunch at my favorite restaurant, and make sure I left time for a nap.

3. Are you a speed limit driver? If not, over or under?

As long as we’re off the record, I’ll admit that I’m usually going 3-5 miles over the limit when I’m on my local highways.  I do try to stay at the limit on city streets, though sometimes the limit is just ridiculous for the area, and I still go a little fast.  But I tend to drive the limit religiously if I’m in unfamiliar places. 

4. What's your favorite dessert to make, homemade or from a mix?

I’m not really much of a dessert maker cook, but I’m awfully fond of Mrs. Smith’s Deep Dish Apple Pie.  Years ago, my friend Gary told me how much better they are if you sprinkle some cinnamon sugar on top for the last 10-15 minutes, and he was right.  I’ve been doing it that way ever since.

5. Would you rather have a spider or a mouse scurry across your face (no copping out and saying "neither!!")?

Neither prospect fills me with warm thoughts, but I’d pick the mouse.  Spiders just really give me the heebie jeebies, and besides, some of them are poisonous.  At least mice are sort of cute.

So, having read back over this week’s queries, I’m not sure that too many secrets have been revealed.  I don’t particularly like to cook or shop, but if you’ve spent much time here, you probably knew that already.  But I did admit to mild speeding, and confess my preference for a rodent.  Hey, now that I think about it, I have always been awfully fond of Speedy Gonzales!  I guess you really never know what you’ll discover during 5QF.

What about you?  What questions might explain your childhood cartoon favorites?  Or tell us a little bit more about you?  You can leave your answers in the comments below.  (Mama M is on a getaway this weekend, which [I assume] is why there’s no blog hop code, but if you’re blogging along, you can still link up on her site; just be sure to let me know so I can go by and visit.)

Thanks for sharing your Friday with me, and have a good weekend, everybody. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Twenty Years Ago Today



Yesterday I told you a little bit about Elvis Presley and how my mom was such a fan.  So, it is somewhat ironic to me that each August 16 now brings the anniversary not only of the passing of The King, but also the passing of my mother.  Yes, 15 years to the day after the passing of her idol, my mom also left this earth behind.

My mother—Mama—was the best mom you could hope to have.  I know there were times in my youth that I didn’t believe that, but I’m thankful that I can honestly say those moments were few and far between.  She was the kind of mom who would make me feel better when I was sad and make me feel great when I was happy.  The kind who would laugh with me, cry with me, talk with me, just be with me.  She would help when I needed it, whether that meant working on math, trying to explain boys, or giving me a firm swat on the butt.  But most importantly, Mama loved me.  Every day, every minute.  I never doubted it.  Even in those moments when I wished she weren’t so strict, or when she was cranky, and, yes, even when she was spanking my butt.  That kind of unconditional love is an amazing thing to grow up with, and I know that I’m blessed to have had it. 

The beginning of the end happened in the early months of 1991; that’s when Mama was diagnosed with cancer.  Those months were also another kind of beginning for me; shortly before Mama’s diagnosis, Brian and I had learned we were expecting a child.  Such a conflict of emotions during those months—the best news ever tempered by the worst. 

Her cancer had originated in the gallbladder—highly unusual, and highly lethal, generally because it’s often found at a later stage of development, which was the case for Mama.  Her doctors estimated she had 3-6 months remaining.  I was selfish; not only did I not want to lose my mom, I really did not want to lose her before I became a mother myself.  Who else was going to teach me the most important of lessons in how to bring another life into this world?  I prayed every day that she would survive long enough to see the birth of my son, and that prayer was granted.

Mama with Billy newborn

Then I prayed that she’d still be with us for Christmas, then the new year, her birthday in April . . . on and on.  The prayers were granted for so long, it was a miracle.  She proved the doctors wrong, at least in their timeframe, and lived eighteen months after her diagnosis.  That gave her more time than she’d expected—time to spend with those who mattered most, to return for a while to the job she was passionate about, time to travel.  Really, just time to live, and she did.

As a nurse, she had seen the pain and suffering brought on by cancer, but she had also seen the suffering brought on by cancer treatments.  And she had the knowledge and experience to know that any treatments for her particular disease were likely to be aggressive yet unsuccessful.  She made the decision not to spend whatever time she had left in hospital rooms, more debilitated by the medicine than by the illness it was designed to cure, so she did not pursue treatment.  That was a hard decision for me to accept, though I absolutely believed in her right to make it.  Then and now I feel the same: yes, it was her choice to make, but what if?  I told you I was selfish. 

Still, eighteen months.  And in those months I have memories that I will cherish forever.  And, it was eighteen more months of quiet confidence that I was loved unconditionally by at least one person in this world. 

At first, you might not even have known she was sick.  The changes in her energy and daily life were only noticed by those who knew her best.  Like I said, she was living.  But by spring of 1992, that was changing.  She was slowing down.  She felt unwell often.  It was no longer possible to believe that the doctors had been wrong.  Our miracle was coming to an end. 

In the last month or so of her life, my prayers had become less specific.  No longer did I ask, “don’t let her die until___________”, I simply said, “Make her well; don’t let her die”.  I said it a lot, and fervently.  Don’t let her die.  I’d had over a year to come to grips with losing the most important person in my life, but I was nowhere near ready.  But, really, how do you get ready for that?  My dad had died very unexpectedly, and at the time I thought how much worse that was for the family, with no time to adjust, no time to say goodbye.  I know now that it doesn’t matter how it happens.  There isn’t really any adjusting, there’s only going on. 

The last week was hard.  She was at home, the way she wanted it, but mostly unconscious.  Brian and I—along with our not quite one year old Billy—were essentially living at her house, because I needed to be there every minute that I could.  It seemed clear that this was the end.   When I went to bed on the night of August 15, 1992, my prayer was different yet again.  This time, “make her well” was not followed by my normal plea.  Rather, “don’t let her suffer anymore”.  I remember repeating those words in my head until I fell asleep that night.  Please make her well, but if you can’t, don’t let her suffer anymore

By the early hours of the 16th, she was gone.  I was devastated, lost.  Honestly, I think if it had not been for Billy—the responsibility of caring for another person—I might not have survived.  And in the midst of the loss, I was wondering about my selfishness.  Had my prayer that final night caused speeded up her passing?  Or, had my earlier prayers prolonged her suffering, kept her hanging on until I was ready to let her go? 

I’ve mostly come to grips with that guilt in these past twenty years.  I am confident in the knowledge that whatever part my prayers did or did not have in the timing of her passing, Mama does not blame me.  I’m peaceful in the certainty that she knows all of my doubts and fears and still loves me anyway. 

So now it’s been twenty years that I’ve been without her.  I always wish that she’d been able to see Billy grow up.  Not just because she loved him so much, but because he would’ve loved her.  He missed out on a lot, and I hate that.  I only hope that I’ve managed to instill in him the quiet certainty that he is loved, no matter what.  It is the single most important thing she did for me, and I pray that I honored her memory enough to do that for my child. 

And though it’s been twenty years, I still miss her every day.  I used to wonder how long that would last, but I understand now that the answer is forever.  Or at least, forever on this earth.  Even after twenty years, there are moments when I think about calling her to share something about my life.  Flashes of some happening or another that make me think, Mama would love that.  Those moments invariably stop me in my tracks, as I’m faced with the loss again, and for a second or two I’m frozen, wondering how I’ve managed to make it without her this long, and how I will go on again.  But then I remember the one unwavering truth in my life:  Mama loves me.  Her love was the foundation of my life; there’s no reason it should change.  Not now, or even in another twenty years. 

Mama and Me