Sunday, December 19, 2010

Serendipity

My mother. Whether she has $10 or $100 to spend on presents, she nails it every time. We had our Christmas early yesterday because Pmo and I are going to Kentucky next weekend. And I just had to share some of the genius that is Eva D.

She gave me and Pmo Oreo themed coffee mugs and packages of Double Stuf Oreos. Yeah, we love us some Oreos. Pmo got a set of steel pennies from 1943 and a book on Abe Lincoln. I got a pug napkin holder and a Gone with the Wind book. Our most awesome joint gifts were a wine cooler and an electric wine opener with a chiller. Yeah, we like us some wine, too. Duh. But I have been looking at wine coolers for months in the Target ads, so it’s definitely something that’s been on my mind. In case you didn’t know, wine is supposed to be stored on its side somewhere between 48-58 degrees. Our bottles have been upright in a corner cabinet. A fridge is really too cold, that’s why a cellar or cooler is ideal. Actually, different types of wine are supposed to be chilled at various temperatures. But I digress.

I can’t speak for Pmo but my favorite gift has got to be my lapdesk. I had one when I was younger that was basically a bean bag with a flat surface on top and a place for a pencil. You could use it sitting on the floor or in a chair. Actually, I think I went through more than one. My new lapdesk has a light and a built-in wrist pad. It’s a purple/pink color with a leopard print and stuffed like a pillow.

It could not be a more perfect gift for me. If I’m not sleeping, doing laundry or cleaning the house, I’m in this recliner. Yes, I eat here, too. But most of the time I’m on the computer and watching TV. Sometimes I write to-do lists, grocery lists or balance my checkbook and I need a light. But the one beside me is kind of harsh and blinds Pmo on the couch. Now I have it all, right here in this lovely lapdesk.

So kudos to Mom and here’s to a mother knowing her daughter. She gave me a gift I didn’t even know I wanted, yet I can’t believe I didn’t think of it first. On top of that, it’s a throwback to my childhood and the magic of Christmas. That is the making of a great present.

Sidenote: I just asked Pmo what his favorite gift was and he said the camo foldup camping chair :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Who You'd Be Today

I tell people I'm an only child. But that's not the whole story. Truth is, I had a sister I never knew. And she would have turned 37 years old today. Staci Lea Malone passed away about 8 months after she was born. She was with Mom and Dad at a racetrack when a car lost control and hit them. Staci died on the way to the hospital. Mom was hospitalized and couldn't attend Staci's funeral. That's about all I know. And I didn't even learn that from my parents. It's something we don't really talk about. But even though I may not talk to Mom and Dad today, I know they are thinking about her. And I am, too. I wonder how different things would have been if she was here. I would probably have a brother-in-law as well as nieces and nephews. I wonder where she would have called home. What kind of career she would have. What kind of relationship the two of us would have developed. But it makes me smile to think about Staci enjoying heaven with Papaw and my cousin, Jason. I talk to her sometimes, especially when I'm feeling really down or have a big decision to make. I think Kenny Chesney's "Who You'd Be Today" pretty much sums it up. Happy Birthday, Sis.

"Would you see the world?
Would you chase your dreams?
Settle down with a family?
I wonder what would you name your babies?
Some days the sky's so blue
I feel like I can talk to you
And I know it might sound crazy...

It ain't fair you died too young
Like a story that had just begun
The death tore the pages all away
God knows how I miss you
All the hell that I've been through
Just knowing no one could take your place
Sometimes I wonder who you'd be today..."

Friday, December 10, 2010

Stressful Season

I haven't blogged in awhile. Obviously. I blame the holidays because they're sure as hell the culprit. I've had 3 to-do lists going at one time for the past couple of weeks. The first one is immediate tasks with deadlines: pay this bill, wash the sheets, buy dog food, etc. The second is a Christmas to-do list: presents, cards, food and the like. Since we're getting together with family and friends at different times, there's a stair step of deadlines on those items. Finally, there's my regular to-do list. Things I need to accomplish but can wait. Plus work. Plus sleep. Plus cooking and eating. Plus "enjoying" myself at holiday celebrations. Bah humbug.

I like Christmas. I really do. And now that Pmo and I are married with dogs, we've become a little family who likes to open gifts Christmas morning and sniff out the stockings for treats and toys. But there's so much stress and pressure that comes along with the holiday season. I always say it seems like everyone wants a piece of me this time of year, but I think I bring it on myself. Trying to do it all. I'm the one insisting we get together with most of these people. Because I feel like if I don't do it, no one else will. And it has to be planned out ahead of time because, of course, I won't have it any other way. But after awhile, it's not fun. And a get together is something I have to do instead of something I want to do. I've got to get out of that mood.

Tomorrow, we have a free day as well as next Sunday. So I'm hoping to get some of the extra stuff done so I can relax and enjoy the rest of it. I've already had my pseudo-breakdown, so has Pmo. It can only get better from here, right?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Party/Politics

It's been a stressful week for me. Election night is one of the busiest and hectic times in news. In the eight years I've been a producer, I've learned that I can't wait until election night to start working on it. This year, I started my rundown one week ahead of time and did my research during spare moments at work and even last weekend. But now it's over and although there are primaries and an odd year election in between, I really don't have to worry about it for another two years.

I was also stressed out this week from planning Pmo's surprise birthday party. I love surprising him and seeing the look on his face. It's one of my favorite things to do. Plus I get lots of hugs in return. Last year, I took him to French Lick to see Ron White and ride a train. This year, I invited his family to a cookout at our house and recruited my parents to cook chicken and potatoes on the grill. I fixed green bean casserole, pasta salad, brownies and coconut cake. Mom also brought corn. And his aunt brought a grape salad that I am in love with now.

I wasn't sure how to tell Pmo when the big moment came. I finally decided to just let my parents show up with the cooker, then I'd spring it on him. He was on his new motorcycle getting ready to take it to the BMV to get his title and registration when they pulled in the driveway. He eventually went to the BMV, but he stuck around for a little bit when he figured out what was going on.

I'd been hiding things in the house all week in preparation for the party: charcoal, 2 liters, etc. I prepared the desserts on Friday and had to stash them somewhere, too. I did a bunch of laundry, especially dog blankets, and freshened up the guest bedroom. I cleaned the house. I swept the patio. I straightened up the garage. I lied to Pmo all week about why we couldn't do this or that on Saturday. Or made him think we were doing this or that on Saturday. I even had to email the guy he bought the motorcycle from to make sure the deal didn't go down on Nov. 6th.

The weather was also stressing me out. Here I thought all I'd have to worry about was rain. Didn't think we'd have a 25 degree morning. Not this early. Yes, I know it can happen. I also know that we sometimes get 90 degree weather in October. You can't win. But I was prepared to set up tables inside if it came down to it. We ended up eating outside in the sun and it was just fine. Pmo blew out candles on his cake and opened up his presents after we ate. Then Mom and I packed bunches and bunches of chicken and potatoes to send home with everyone. It was a good day. And for the most part, the dogs behaved. Jack was entertaining with his playfulness. Again, he's a dog's dog. Bug's foot was stepped on a few times. Once by me. He also got chicken grease dripped on the back of his neck because he kept sniffing and licking around the grill. And I'm pretty sure both were fed scraps. But they were pretty good. And tired at the end of the day.

I posted some pictures already on Facebook. But here's a few pics after everyone left. Me wearing one of Pmo's new hats. And Bug eagerly anticipating leftovers ;)


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloweekend

The Halloween spirit was alive and well in the Morris house this year. It's become a ritual for us to dress up and go out, put up decorations and carve pumpkins. We even got the dogs involved in our costumes this year.

And of course, we entertain trick or treaters if they come by. I like to invite our friends to bring their kids to our home. Most of my little cousins live in my hometown, and I’m never there to see them all dressed up. I only get to see pictures. And some of our friends don't have any family in town so it works out nicely.

This year, we were visited by Gavin, Everly and Bailey, plus some neighborhood kids. Not as many as last year but we may have missed some because we didn't get home until 4:30pm. Lucy couldn’t make it but her mom sent me a picture. Enjoy, I did!















































Thursday, October 28, 2010

Grandchildhood

I can't sleep lately. I wake up way too early in the morning and go to the bathroom. Then I can't doze off again. Either I can't get comfortable or my mind just won't stop racing. So I get up and go to the couch for a change of scenery or watch TV until I drift off.

The house is pretty quiet at 5am. The refrigerator kicks off and on. But I always hear the clock in the kitchen. Tick, tock, tick tock, tick tock. And I'm taken back to my grandchildhood. See, I heard the clock ticking a lot at my grandma's house whether it was day or night. They didn't watch a lot of TV. There wasn't any music playing. It was pretty silent. Except for the clock.

We spent a lot of time doing "circle the word" puzzles, playing Chinese Checkers and blackjack with pennies. Papaw would teach me how to play the mandolin at night. Grandma would make me fried bologna sandwiches. Papaw would check his blood pressure. Grandma would let me use the ice crusher that hung on the wall in the kitchen.

I remember the nightlight in the room where I'd sleep when I stayed the night. The smell of the garage where Papaw worked on lawnmowers. The swing. The lemonade. The time I got into a nest of yellowjackets. The boys (my cousins) hunting every Thanksgiving, only coming into the house to eat then going back out again. The mushroom/toadstool cookie jar that I begged to dive into.

The pond. The woods. The Easter egg hunts. The chalkboard that hung on the wall in the back room where I would play waitress and write everyone's order down. The nights when I'd sleep with Grandma and Papaw and complain about Papaw's snoring. I remember the smell of the entire house. Luckily, I still have some of it, bottled up in Papaw's guitar case in my back closet.

Papaw's been gone for nearly 12 years. I miss him. Grandma moved to town a few years after he passed. Their home and land is someone else's now. I don't think about it much but when I do, like last night, I become sad. Those days are gone forever. But at least I remember them. And they're all good memories.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lost Dog Depot

Little excitement here this morning and it wasn't the storm.

Pmo woke me up before he went to work and told me the storm was on the way. I got up, reluctantly, to take the dogs out before the rain hit. As we were heading back to the house, Bug took off toward the side yard and I soon found out why.

What is it with white dogs showing up at our house? Remember the Boomer story back in August? I soon discovered our guest was named Hercules. He was very friendly and curious about Bug and Jack, but they were not so polite. After losing my house slippers and trying not to get involved in a fight, I wrestled my dogs in the garage then the house.

I got my phone and called the number on the tag. I was a bit worried because the tag said Eville. I wondered how far this dog had traveled. The woman who answered said she was at work but her father-in-law was nearby and would come get Hercules. She asked, "Is he caged or contained?" I said, "Yeah, you could say that. He's on my lap."

The dog pretty much stayed by my side but, just in case, I hooked a leash on him. I waited on the porch until it started to sprinkle, then Hercules and I headed into the garage. The dog wanted to get inside to see Bug and Jack so badly. He kept going to the door which, of course, sent Bug into a frenzy. But Hercules was making a lot of noise, too. In fact, I renamed him Tweety because he sounded like a bird when he whined.

Tweety was panting heavily so I decided to get him some water. But I couldn't go inside because he would try to go, too. I found a bowl in the garage so I got some water out of the spicket. He was really thirsty! Just about then, a red truck pulled up. The father-in-law had arrived. Tweety and I said our goodbyes and I headed inside. Good thing, too, because a few minutes after I went into the house, it started to pour.

All is calm now on the homefront. The storm has passed. The dogs are asleep. Maybe Hercules and any other runaway dogs will stay put. But if they don't, guess I'll be here to find them.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Selfish Struggle

Being a grownup is tough. At least when you're a kid and you're told, "No, you can't have that," you pout for a little bit and move on with your life. As an adult, you have to make the decision. And live with it. Cue the internal thoughts:

Well, I don't need it but I really want it. I can't afford it right now, but I could put it on a credit card. Or a payment plan. Maybe I'll just save up and buy it. But do I really need it?

You get the idea. But I'm finally coming to a point in my life where I realize living with debt is just an accident waiting to happen. Because if I have some kind of major emergency, I am screwed. Even though I do have some money in savings, a 401K and a Roth IRA, I know it's just not enough.

In my 20s, I jumped from vehicle to vehicle and instead of reducing my debt, the trade-ins only added to it. I also had several credit cards, especially store cards like JCPenney and Kohl's. Now, in my 30s, my car is paid off and still running (thank you very much), my motorcycle is pretty close to being paid off and I can't wait to sink my teeth into that student loan I've been minimally paying on for 10 years. Oy.

Okay, so I still have credit cards. But just 2. With low interest rates. And I only run them up on vacation. But then I have to pay them back down. Which delays the motorcycle and student loan payoff. It's quite a pickle sometimes.

Okay, so I also still have a store card. It's a Target RedCard that I only applied for to get a great deal on a flat screen TV in January. But I had 6 months to pay it off before interest would accrue, and I did that, and now has a $0 balance. Except they recently started offering 5% off purchases when you use the card. Crap. At least I haven't used it. Yet. I know I'd be better off if I just got rid of credit cards, but I'm too scared something would happen and I wouldn't be able to pay for it.

I'll admit the sight of a new(er) car is tempting. I never understood why my dad kept buying old cars for me in my early driving years. Now I know. They were easy to pay off. And they ran for awhile. New clothes are also tempting, especially with that 15% discount they offer when you open a card with the store. Credit card purchases are tempting when I don't have the money or I'd like to keep a little cushion in my account.

But here's my real wish list of tempations. I want a Trek bicycle that costs nearly $400. I want Pmo to get a motorcycle or street legal dirt bike so we can ride together. That will probably cost at least $1000 or more. I want to buy Rock Band for Wii. I haven't even checked the price on that but I'm pretty sure it's in the hundreds. And considering how little I play the Wii now, it's probably not worth getting.

The point is, these things must wait. Or I will make no progress toward the debt I already owe. And isn't that the ultimate goal? Such a pickle. And a fun sort of game at the same time. I mean, what else would I be doing if I wasn't trying to figure out how to rob Peter to pay Paul all of the time?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pervert Island

I can't stand sex offenders. I get angry every time I hear about a case of child molestation. Which is daily in the news business, but there are plenty more that go unreported. We ran a story last week about a 52 year old man who's accused of giving herpes to a 7 year old girl. Let me say that again: a 7 years old girl contract herpes through no fault of her own. She's going to have to deal with that for the rest of her life. Not to mention the psychological damage because now she's going to have trouble trusting others and having relationships. Makes me want to castrate people.

But I have another idea about what we can do with sex offenders. It's a little more humane that cutting off their manhood. Sex offenders aren't allowed to be around children or schools, right? And no one wants them living in their neighborhood. So the answer is simple: gather them all up and drop them off at a little place I like to call Pervert Island. They can mess with each other, all they want. They'll have trouble procreating because most sex offenders are men. And maybe the breed will just die out.

I only wish we could screen these people before they hurt innocent kids. Like an aptitude test in high school. "Let's see, you scored a 75 out of 100. Sorry, you're going to Pervert Island."

That's really all I have to say about that.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Unnecessary Roughness

I hate unexpected bills. Hate, hate, hate, LOATHE unexpected bills. I know, who doesn't? But when I get one of these little puppies in the mail, it just infuriates me! Then I dwell on it for the rest of the day and it's all I can think about it.

I've had a few doozies in my day and they're almost always medical. Like the time I got my ears flushed out and it ended up costing me nearly $300! And my neighbor was the nurse that did it. I could have just went down the street and had her do it at home for free. After that, she gave me my own syringe and pan so I could do it myself. I can't remember what the insurance company's excuse was. It must have been "out of the network" or some stupidity.

Then there was the time I got charged extra because my gynecologist performed some kind of extra procedure during my yearly exam that wasn't deemed "necessary" by the almighty insurance gods. I don't remember how much it was, but it wasn't cheap. And next time, I told her not to do whatever it was she did because I got charged out the you know what.

This time, it had to do with the gynecologist again, in a roundabout way. Because they made such a big deal at work about an annual checkup being fully paid for this year, I decided to get one. I was tired all of the time and my wrist was hurting, so I thought, why not? Let's see what's wrong with me. I also wanted to establish a family doctor. I'd been going to the clinic when I got sick and was tired of not being able to understand what the doctor said half the time. That and just being a number. So I got a physical exam in May. And no, it wasn't completely free. In fact, I just got a bill in OCTOBER from the office visit in MAY for an extra $60 that I now mysteriously owe.

Now let's back up to August. I went for my yearly girl exam and found out new regulations only require pap smears every three years as long as the last few tests were normal. Awesome! I never look forward to that part of the visit anyway. So all she did was the "hands-on" part if you know what I mean. Then a few days ago, I get a bill in the mail for $152! Are you freaking kidding me? She didn't even do the real pap smear.

The first thing I did was make sure my visits were a year apart because the insurance companies can get really picky about that. Yes, my visits were a year and a day apart. Then I emailed customer service to figure out what's wrong, knowing full well I was going to have to pay this bill and all of my efforts are in vain. And I was right. Basically they said I already maxed out my $300 a year limit which must have been eaten up by that physical back in May. If I had known that, plus the no pap smear tidbit, I wouldn't even have went to the gyno this year.

We also had our fall heating/cooling checkup last week. We already paid for it during the spring inspection so no worries there, right? The guy came over, spent about an hour, everything is hunky dorey and he leaves. I didn't turn the air on for a few days because the weather was mild. I went to turn it on Sunday night and there's no cool air coming out of the vent. Just the fan. Great. Grand. Wonderful. The guy came back to check it out Monday and said we need some new part that's going to cost more than $300!!! Again, smack me in the face with a triple digit number that I must pay in a matter of days. Luckily, Pmo and I will split that one down the middle. We're going to eventually have to get a new unit. It's a York and it's old.

I guess I should quit complaining and count my blessings because I've never had any serious medical bills. I've never stayed in the hospital or had surgery. I know plenty of people have it worse than me. Some people can't even pay the bills they know are coming down the pipe. It just sucks. Especially when you're trying to pay off credit cards, a motorcycle, a student loan and get some financial stability. But no. All of sudden the money you were going to put toward one of those payments is wasted on something you never really needed in the first place. Well, I take that back. We do need heat and air. But I really didn't need to pay $150 to get manhandled by the gyno. Or should I say womanhandled?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fitness Frustration

I have been hardcore slacking on my fitness lately. Especially the Wii. I haven't played Wii Fit Plus in months. I'm afraid to turn it on because I know I'm going to get a lecture. Isn't that sad?


My problem was I didn't think I was getting anywhere. I got into yoga for back pain. I started Wii Fit Plus because I wanted to lose weight. And walking the dogs is always a win win situation. Exercise plus bathroom time. For the dogs, not me. But when I didn't see any results, when my weight fluctuated up and down, when I felt like I was just wasting my time, I quit. My back pain improved but I think I have my chiropractor to thank for that.


Then the other day I just kind of hit me. It doesn't really matter if I lose weight. Yes, I'd like to, but I'm not willing to kill myself to do it. Ironically, to me, killing myself means running my butt off and eating small portions of super healthy food. Things that are supposed to do the exact opposite of kill you. I should exercise because it's good for me. It makes me feel better. And something is better than nothing. Even if it doesn't seem to be doing any good.

The thing is, I really liked yoga. I enjoyed boxing on Wii Fit Plus. I loved Just Dance, another Wii game. In fact, I really want to buy Just Dance 2 but I'm secretly hoping it will show up as a birthday present (wink wink). And I always get a kick out of walking the dogs. I think I'll try to reincorporate all of those things back into my routine. And just not take it so seriously or push myself too hard.

I also need to get back into fitness for the dogs' sake. It's difficult to find the harmony in walking Bug because he has arthritis. Don't get me wrong, he needs to exercise. The last thing he should do is be a couch potato. But he doesn't need to overdo it either because that can hurt him, too. That's why the stroller was invented. Jack, on the other hand, needs all the exercise he can get. He's got so much energy and not enough ways to release it.

Pmo walks Jack nearly every night around the neighborhood for about a mile. Pmo's actually really good about walking for his back pain. He's very consistent and does it almost daily. I need to walk Jack like that, too, in the morning. It's just the recliner and the remote seem so much more appealing.

I've also learned something about myself in this process: if I want to do something besides surf the internet in the morning, I need to do said activity first. Because once I sit down with that laptop, I'm a goner. So that's my new pledge. Do any kind of activity at least once a day: whether it's walking, bicycling, yoga, Wii, vacuuming, dusting, etc.


I don't need to invest a lot of time or feel like it's taking up my whole life with nothing to show for it. A 15 minute walk. 15 minutes of yoga. 15 minutes on the Wii. And I'm done. Well, maybe two out of three ain't bad.













Monday, October 11, 2010

C'mon DJ Play That Song

I've been to many events where a DJ was providing the entertainment for the night: wedding receptions, class reunions, etc. Some were better than others, but every once in awhile you get one that's really, really bad. They just don't get it. The art of DJing has passed them at warp speed.

I feel the job of a DJ is pretty simple: have an awesome sound system, throw in some lights and a disco ball and play great music. Hit me up with some mellow, slow stuff while I'm eating dinner, but pick up the beat when it's time to dance. And throw some slow ones in for the couples. There are plenty of good tunes to choose from since, oh, I don't know, the 1950s! So it shouldn't be that hard to pick them out and play them.

A recent event I attended had the worst speakers I have ever heard in my life. They were hollow with no bass. They sounded like the speakers that came with your first car before you shelled out money for good ones. So I was skeptical of this DJ from the get-go.

Dinner music wasn't too bad, but I think at some point he just quit playing anything. But when it came time to dance, this guy had no clue. He kept playing these stupid novelty country songs that nobody was dancing to. Now I'll be the first to admit I love country music. New stuff, old stuff, I'm a fan. But I hardly ever dance to it. Maybe "The Devil Went Down to Georgia". But definitely not songs like "Viva Viagra"! I was really disappointed because by that time I had several drinks in me and was seriously considering getting out on the dance floor.

Just give me some John Mellencamp, Billy Idol, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Van Morrison, AC/DC, Bob Seger. Please. He eventually played "You Shook Me All Night Long" and "Old Time Rock & Roll" but they were few and far between all those other crappy songs. There was absolutely no momentum and nothing to keep people out there shaking their groove thing. Hell, give me some 70s. "Brick House" and "Superfreak". Anything!

I know people make fun of stereotypical wedding songs like "YMCA", "Love Shack" and "Celebration". But if you had been in my shoes, you would have been begging for those clich├ęs at that point. That was another thing. I saw several people go up and ask him to play a song, and he'd just ignore them. He'd sit back in his chair, eating his big, fat plate of food and play whatever he felt like playing.

Dude, when you see people sitting down in their chairs, song after song after song after song, it's not working. You're not entertaining us. You're not doing your job.

If I wanted to work weekends and lug a bunch of equipment around, I'd be a DJ and show these idiots how it's done. I compare it to singing a slow song at a karaoke bar: people are out for the night, having a good time, getting their drink on. They want to go back and relive their glory days. No one wants to hear you sing "Crazy" by Patsy Cline and kill their buzz. Sing something that rocks. Sing something everyone knows and wants to hear. Sing something awesome. Do not sing Edwin McCain's "I'll Be" and expect anyone to pay attention.

Alright, I'm jumping off this soapbox and working up my next blog: why I stopped working out with the Wii ;)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Smoky Mountain Rain

The trip to the Smokies was a success in the sense that we didn't get kicked out of the motel. And in all honestly, we probably weren't even close to getting kicked out but I was on edge all weekend. Remember how I was worried about Bug making a fool of himself? Well, he was relatively good. Jack was the problem.

See, I forgot a little tiny fact about my youngest dog. He gets spooked easily. Especially by strange noises. And what is a motel full of? Strange noises. People coming and going in the hallway. Doors closing, etc. And this was a pet-friendly motel so, of course, there were tons of other dogs there, walking down the hallway, collars jingling, scents permeating the air.

That being said, the first night I hardly slept. I wanted to keep the air conditioner running all night to drown out any kind of noise that might creep in through the door, but then we'd freeze to death. And that was the thing. It wasn't like we heard anything coming through the walls of the other rooms. Just the hallway. But the air conditioner turning on and off woke me up more than the dogs did. Still, they would bark when they detected strangeness in the hallway. And stare at the door. Mostly in the evening, after our activities for the day were over and we were winding down after dinner. Pmo and I don't have much of a nightlife on vacation. After dinner, we're pretty much done for the night.

But we did get to do some shopping and wine tasting. And wine buying. Took the two trails that allowed dogs. Stopped at the lookouts and enjoyed the views. Spent the last day and a half in the rain mostly but we lucked out and only got sprinkled on when we were out and about. We did get kicked off the Clingman's Dome paved trail by a park ranger. Which I was thankful for because I was strenuously pushing Bug on the stroller up a very steep incline. Like I said, dogs are only allowed on two trails and they're located at the two entrances to the park. I did not get to use the baby carrier that I finally bought right before the trip. We tried it out at home. It's a little too snug for Bug but it would have served its purpose. But I forgot it on the first trail and the second trail was stroller friendly so I didn't need it. But I'm sure we'll use it sometime in the future.

It was very hard to relax on this vacation because I was too worried about the dogs getting out of control. When they were just being themselves. So next time, if there is a next time, I think I'll spring for the cabin, which was my original plan because there would be no worries about sharing walls with people. And there's a hot tub, bonus. But I'm guessing next time we go out of town, Bug and Jack will have their own little vacation at Grandma's.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Three Dog Night

We're gearing up for our first real trip with the dogs. We've always taken them to Mom and Dad's during our vacations, but this time we're including the whole family. We've been doing a lot more activities with the dogs lately. Especially on the bicycles now that we have the trailer. So we're anxious to see how this mini-vacay goes.

Bug and Jack have been on the occasional excursion with us: Garden of the Gods, Falls of the Ohio State Park, etc. But never a 4 day, 3 night motel stay. Which by the way is going to be at Motel 6 because they claim to be totally pet friendly and they don't charge extra fees.

Jack is a pretty good travel companion, mild mannered and quiet. Bug is a whole other story. I like to say he has "special needs". And by special needs I mean he's nearly 10 and has arthritis. We've worked around it with the stroller and the bike trailer. But hiking is a new problem. Most trails are not stroller friendly and Bug can only go so far before his little legs give out. Like half a mile. Meanwhile Jack can go for miles and miles and miles...

So even though he weighs 30 pounds, I'm looking for a baby carrier for Bug. I've started the search on eBay and craigslist because I really don't want to spend a lot of money. I've already tested out the theory with various bags at home, but none seem to work well. Plus, Bug is heavy. I know my back is going to pay the price for this, but he's got to be able to go with us on our outings. He's just gotta.

Another issue is what to do with the dogs while we're out places that don't allow them. Namely stores, wineries and restaurants. Most of our activities are planned outdoors but we would like to visit some other places. Looks like there won't be any sit down meals for us. More like fast food and takeout. But I think we can manage. I just don't feel comfortable leaving them in a motel room by themselves. The only other option I can think of is leaving them in the car while it's running.

So as I continue to look for the perfect Bug carrier, take a look at my vision that Jill Lyman brought to life with PhotoShop:



Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Talk to Me

My mom often asks me, "Have you talked to so-and-so lately?" And I'll say:
"Well, I texted her the other day."
"He wrote me on my Facebook wall."
"I chatted online with her the other night."
"I got an email from him yesterday."
"Saw a tweet from her today."

You get the idea. My question is, can I just shorten these responses and just answer, yes? Do I really have to explain what the specific form of communication was used? Especially to my mom who doesn't know what any of those things are?

There are so many different ways to "talk" now without actually speaking a word. I used talk to my husband several times a day. He'd call me in the morning while he was at work. I would give his cell phone a ring at night when I was at work. But now we mainly text back and forth in the morning, in the evening, and usually only speak to each other when we're in each other's physical presence.

A similar evolution has happened with my out of town friends. We used to call now and then but for the longest time it's been mostly emails. Then the birth of Facebook changed all that and that's how I "talk" with everyone now. But the great thing about texting is if I'm thinking of something, right that very moment, I can shoot my friend a quick text about it. I don't have to dial. I don't have boot up the computer and log in. Unless it's late at night, because many of my friends are in that thing called the eastern time zone and I work late. But texting is nice, especially for things like movie quotes, song lyrics and other things that spark old memories. And general frustrations of life.

I always marvel at the fact that most of my plans are made without talking on the phone. Especially with groups. It's like having everyone on a conference call. Ah, the magic of the mass email or multi-messaging on Facebook. We can meet in a park, on a certain day, at a certain time, with all the makings of a great picnic without ever hearing each other's voices before that moment.

So the next time Mom asks if I've talked to so-and-so, I think I'll just say yes. Does it really matter whether we texted, tweeted, Facebooked, emailed, chatted or whatever else we do besides speak to each other? Not really. Truth is I probably wouldn't know as much as I do about my friends and family if it wasn't for all those forms of social media. And that's something to "talk" about.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Doctor, Doctor, Gimme the News...

I feel like a doctor's office should be like pizza delivery. If you have to wait more than 45 minutes, the service should be free.


I spent a lot of time in waiting and exam rooms last month. The dentist, the vet, the chiropractor and the ever popular gynecologist, just to name a few. All in a matter of just a few days. And most of that time I spent waiting. I don't understand why.


It should be simple. 15 minutes to check in. 15 minutes to do the exam. 15 minutes to check out. I should not have to block more than an hour out of my day to go to the doctor. It's ridiculous. I know there are other patients. I know there's paperwork and insurance. But get it together. Learn efficiency and multi-tasking. The rest of us have to do it.


If I was a doctor, I'd see 3 patients in 15 minute increments and take the last 15 minutes of the hour for myself. To do whatever other doctor things I needed to do. Catch up on paperwork. Make phone calls. Whatever. That way I wouldn't be rushed and I would have time to spend with everyone accordingly. I also would not overbook patients. I believe that happens, too. And if you're not there on time, I'm skipping over you and going to the next person.


My last trip to the dentist was really irritating. She's super nice, almost cheesy. But I sat in the waiting room for at least a half hour before I got in the chair. Already, I've wasted time. My cleaning with the dental hygenist went quickly and I was ready to go on about my day. But no, I had to wait for my dentist, who didn't even work on me, to look me over before I could leave. I swear I waited another half hour for that. When she finally came in, she tried to make small talk but I just wasn't into it. I wanted to get the hell out of there. I felt like a prisoner!


Here's the thing: I'm 31 years old. I'm not an 85 year old woman who has nothing else to do but go the doctor. That is not the highlight of my day. I have a job. I have housework. I have groceries to get. I have banks and post offices to go to. I have a husband. I have dogs. I try not to be in too much of a hurry, but my time is just as valuable as the next person. Great, now I have an image of me barrelling down the highway in my car, passing my grandma who's driving 30 with the emergency brake on, eloquently saying, "Now just what is her damn hurry? She'd better slow down!"


During the healthcare debate, I read an article written by a woman originally from the tri-state who used to live in Switzerland. Or maybe it was Canada. Anyway, it was another country where she described the medical system as a very well run machine. Very little wait, low to no copays, etc. I wish I had saved that article. I could take it into the doctor and use it like a competitor's coupon. "Can you match this? If not, I'm taking my business elsewhere." But then I guess I'd have to go to Switzerland to get my teeth cleaned. Damn, that's not going to work.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Dog Whisperer

I should have known it was going to be a strange night when I saw three or four deer standing on the side of the road on my way home, ready to run out in front of me. Then a rabbit did try to dart out on the road moments after, but I think it went on its way.

It was about 11:30pm. Pmo was taking out the dogs for their last round when I heard barking. I went out on the front porch to see what was going on, and all of a sudden this big white dog comes bounding up the driveway. Pmo was trying to control our dogs and I was wondering where the runaway came from because I didn't see anyone around. A few minutes later, a woman comes walking up the driveway with a leash and a collar in her hands.

Apparently "Boomer" had made a break for it and his owner could not wrangle him. He toyed with Bug and Jack for a few minutes then he was off again, running around our house and into the backyard. I thought eventually he would calm down and let the woman put the collar back on, but that just wasn't happening. So I decided to help. I went back inside, got my shoes on and Pmo suggested I grab some treats.

And so the hunt began. To be honest, Boomer's owner wasn't doing much to get him under control. She had come from a neighborhood across a busy road where the dog almost got hit, and she seemed to have given up. And Boomer, well, he was playing a game. The treats did not tempt him at all. He would run up to me, almost where I could pet him, then he'd bolt away, jumping around like he was having the time of his life.

After a few trips around the house, I started to get irritated. I know, shocker, right? But here's this crazy dog running around my yard, his owner doesn't know what the hell she's doing, it's almost midnight and there's quite a commotion going on. That's when it hit me. My tone was all wrong. I was doing the high pitched, "here Boomer, come here, come here boy" and whistling which is fun and playful. He needed the low pitch "I mean business" voice. So that's what I did. I said, "Boomer, come here, come here, Boomer" in that stern Mom tone. You know, the one where she uses all three names? And just like that, he started to walk toward me really slow with his head down, and I walked toward him a little, making sure he wasn't going to bolt again, and I had him.

I yelled at the lady, "I got him!" She ran over, put the collar on him and thanked me a million times. In the meantime, her sister had pulled up in a vehicle, ready to take them home. But I heard the woman say she was just going to walk Boomer the rest of the way. I secretly hoped the collar would hold up and we wouldn't have to entertain Boomer again. So I am proclaiming myself: the dog whisperer. Now if I could only get my own dogs to listen to me!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Gimme a Head with Hair

I have a love/hate relationship with my hair. Mostly hate. It's always been a thick, hard to tame, unruly mess. It was long and heavy down my back until college when I finally got out on my own, sorta, and was able to cut it. My parents never wanted me to chop it off. I used to cut pieces off and hide them in the closet or flush them down the toilet when I was a kid. Yeah, I'm neurotic that way.

Since college, it's been short most of the time. Really short sometimes, even boyish. But it was so much easier to take care of when it was short! And I always had a knack for styling it. I somehow knew exactly what to do with it. Or maybe it was just more cooperative.

I've grown it long a few times since the intital whacking. I'm at one of those in between stages now. It was actually getting past my shoulders a few months ago when I decided to do an inverted bob. But since it's been so hot lately, I tend to pull it back in a ponytail all of the time. Styling it takes too much energy. And heat. I don't want to have to fight it. I just want it to look right. With minimal effort.

But I know it looks better longer, so I go back and forth in my head, trying to figure out what to do. If I don't want to take the time to style it, then what's the use of having it long? If I cut it short, I can't pull it back into a ponytail at all. And depending on how short it is, it will always be on my neck somehow. And that gets tedious, too.

It's also so much easier to color when it's short. I used to be able to do it by myself but now I have my hair dresser just do the roots. There's got to be a happy medium or else I'm going to go back to my Dharma look. Something's gotta give. I'm afraid if I cut it off again, I'll regret it. But it's hair, it will grow back, right? It always does. In droves.

It's making me have an identity crisis. Along with my weight. I change my mind on that a lot, too. Some days I pull the "I'm happy the way I am" attitude. Other days, I know better. So we'll see what happens. I may peruse the short hairstyles section of the internet. Right now.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Tom Petty Experience

I became a Tom Petty fan early on in my life. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in the front yard, Mom came out of the house yelling, "Tom Petty, Tom Petty! That's who sings that song!" She was talking about "I Won't Back Down" and she had finally caught who sang it on the radio. That was the only way to find out back then. Still is for Mom because she doesn't have a computer. Unless she asks me to look it up on the internet.

So when the opportunity arose to see TP in Nashville this year, I jumped at the chance and knew I had to take Mom and Perry. I had seen concerts with each of them but never the three of us together. Mom and I saw TP 15 years ago when he came to Roberts Stadium. In April, she and I saw Bon Jovi in Nashville for the third time. Perry and I saw Tesla at the Centre last year. And in July, Perry and I saw the Scorpions in Nashville. So since we all like TP, it was only fitting the three of us head back to Music City.

We picked up Mom yesterday afternoon and headed south. We stopped at Sumner Crest Winery to pick up some of our favorites bottles of wine and ended up in a traffic jam about 4 miles away our destination. Once we finally got parked and took the shuttle to downtown, we had a difficult time getting a table at our favorite eatery, Big River Brewery, because the place was packed and our usual open bar seating wasn't very open. I guess we looked like we were on a mad hunt for a table because this guy came over to us and offered to share his table with us. It was just him and his wife and it was a huge booth. That was so nice of them! We drank some beer, scarfed down chicken tenderloins, fries and pizza, and had great conversation with the generous couple because, of course, they were going to the concert, too. We were so grateful they let us sit with them. Otherwise, we wouldn't have made the concert on time. In fact, we walked in and found our seats (in the dark) right as Crosby, Stills and Nash took the stage.

I know a few CS&N songs but I just wasn't prepared for them. They were good, don't get me wrong, just very slow and folky. Plus the people behind us kept talking and talking and talking about them. They were also in the wrong seats which they also talked about for 20 minutes. They finally moved, thank God. In between CS&N and TP, the roadies did a lot of sound checks and tuning. I've never heard that before. Usually, they just set up the next band's stuff and go on. I always assumed they got all of the mic checks out of the way earlier in the day.

Finally, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers took the stage and began with "Listen to Her Heart" which I thought was awesome because I was just talking about that song in the car on the way down. I love how it starts: "You think you're gonna take her away, with your money and your cocaine." TP went on to sing "You Don't Know How It Feels", "Free Fallin'", "Mary Jane's Last Dance", "King's Highway", "Learning to Fly", "I Won't Back Down", "Refugee" and more of the old stuff, plus 4 or 5 new ones. I loved them all. One of favorite moments was the end of "Don't Come Around Here No More". It was like a strobe light jam session. Really intense. They ended many of the songs with a lot of momentum. The encore included "Runnin' Down a Dream" and ended with "American Girl" which I predicted. It was great.

The trip home was long. I drove the first leg. Perry took over in Bowling Green. And I got back behind the wheel after we dropped Mom off. We didn't get home until after 3am, very tired. But it was one of the best shows I've ever seen. Not many bells and whistles or theatrics. Just a sample of 34 years of some of the greatest rock 'n roll of all time.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The eBay Way

When I first started eBaying in March, I quickly became addicted to buying. I was timid at first, so worried I would get taken advantage of. But then I started putting bids on items, watching them throughout the day, and the end of the auction, I would either feel the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat.

My first purchase was a Wii Fit balance board plus the Wii Fit and Wii Fit Plus games which I got for well under the $100 asking price at the store. And I've definitely gotten a lot of use out of it, although I've been slacking lately. After that purchase, I would search for things I "needed" constantly and end up with DVDs and other items in my mailbox every few days or so. Then I got the itch to sell.

I decided some of the things I would normally give to Goodwill could actually earn some money in a yard sale, but I didn't want to bother with that: getting up before the crack of dawn, pricing everything with little stickers, haggling with people who want to talk you down from a quarter to a dime. No thanks. So I put 12 items up for bid the first day and expected great things. Then I got worried I hadn't judged the shipping correctly and my bids would be so low that I would be paying people to take these things off my hands. So I took off some the heavier items that hadn't yet received bids and put them on craigslist because there's no shipping involved there. None of the craigslist goods have sold yet, but at least I won't have to ship them if they do. I got a bite on my camera but the woman's never emailed me back.

Now that I've successfully sold a few items on eBay, heavy and light, I prefer to ship on the lighter side so I don't lose my shirt. No pun intended. My friend has been blogging about her Dave Ramsey experience and the "snowflakes" she's been collecting from selling coupons on eBay, so I thought I'd give it a try. It's pretty simple shipping. Stuff them in an envelope and slap a stamp on. So far, I've sold 3 sets of coupons and a gift card I've had for several years that still has the full amount of money on it. I couldn't believe how much I got for that.


I didn't really know how to go about this, so I just did what made sense to me. I grouped the coupons into similar categories and tried to rack up the money count. Like, $45 in coupons for Dole, Yoplait, Totino's, etc. $50 in coupons for Bounty, Windex, Scott, Charmin, etc. I've even got $95 worth of coupons for some health and beauty products. Coupons are back. I mean, they've never really went away, but I think they're trending right now. It's cool to coupon again. Kind of like the breastfeeding comeback. Talking 'bout my generation...


Anyway, the eBay thing is a daily adventure and I'm making a little bit of dough on the side so I'm happy. I get a brand new batch of coupons every Sunday and sometimes through the week. I still clip my own but there are so many I have no need for. I could swap them but if there's someone out there willing to pay a buck fifty for me to ship them out, I'll take it. I have had to relist many of them because they didn't sell. And if it gets too close to the expiration date, I'll just toss them in the trash. No harm done.


I'm also considering putting some books and jewelry up for bid on eBay. I went online and sent some books to a few entities that will pay me a few bucks for them. But some books they just won't take. So I'll see how this goes, could be heavy to ship. And I have a lot of jewelry I never wear. It would be interesting to see if anyone wants it. I can't make a living out of this but every little bit helps. And I love to declutter!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Little Houdini

My dog, Jack, is a free spirit. He does not like to be confined to small spaces. He also does not like to be left alone. And if you do either, or both, you pay dearly for it. In fact, Pmo has to tie Jack up outside when he's mowing or else Jack leaves a nice little present inside. And when I leave for work, I make sure all the bedroom doors are closed because Jack's been known to create a trail of unpleasantness if I don't.

So when I had to work a dayshift this week, and the dogs were going to be cooped up all day, I did what I always do when they're put up for more than a few hours. I barricade them in the kitchen with a tall piece of black cardboard and a couple of chairs. That way, if there is an accident, I can clean it up with no problem. I can't use the baby gate that keeps them in their bedroom at night because the entranceway is too wide. And I have a feeling Jack would jump over it if he really wanted to. He doesn't really care about being cooped up at night anymore. As long as he's not in a pet taxi.

Anyway, I threw my plan into action and start with Bug, who was good to go. He just curled up on his quilt I tossed on the kitchen floor and looked at me like, "You still here?" Jack, however, needed a little more coaxing. Physically. I had to pick him up and place him in the kitchen because he wouldn't go on his own. As I slid the cardboard across, Jack was whining from underneath the kitchen table. And I knew he didn't like it but I didn't want any surprises on the carpet when Pmo got home. Just gotta tough it out, kid.

The rest of the day went pretty smoothly. Before I left work, I was even talking with a co-worker about Jack and his "separation anxiety" as they call it in the dog world. And right before I went to the booth for the 6pm newscast, I get a picture like this from Pmo:


Yep. Jack had chewed a mouse hole and found his freedom. I've used the cardboard trick several times when we've been out on day trips and he's never tried to destroy it. The good news is there were no other messes.
I would have loved to set a camera up to see how the process went. Did Jack stare at the tall black wall for awhile... thinking how he could get on the other side and back to the couch and carpet? How long did it take him to realize he could chew through it? Did he do it in the morning or the evening? Did he have to test it out... chew for a little bit, try to get through, then realize he needed more space? What was Bug doing all this time, watching? Did Jack chew a hole big enough for Bug to fit through? I doubt it.
Nevertheless, our little Houdini has outsmarted us once again. I have another dayshift coming up next week and I'm not sure what I'm going to do. Leave the dogs loose like normal and hope for the best? Or invest in a less destructible barrier? It really doesn't matter. What Jack wants, Jack gets. Whether it's freedom or retribution, it's never my choice.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Back to the Future

The staycation is about to come to an end. We return to work tomorrow. Boo. But I'm not too disturbed by it. Here's what we ended up doing. We started with a wedding and ended with a birthday party. In between? Made a trip to Eddie Bauer and visited Perry's granny. Tried to stay cool at Holiday World's Splashin' Safari and did some shopping in Owensboro, ate at Moonlite BBQ. Plus we celebrated our anniversary at Patti's Settlement.

We seemed to do a lot of eating and not much exercising on staycation. I plan to jump back on the Wii Fit Plus, starting today, and get a hold of my eating habits. I'm sure I'll get scolded by the Wii. There's just not much you can do about it on vacation. Who wants to practice restraint when you're supposed to be enjoying yourself? Besides your schedule and routine gets totally thrown off. I also want to get back to my financial fitness. I still have plans to pay off the motorcycle soon and have no vehicle payments at all. I also hate the fact that my student loan is still hanging around after 10 years. Must buckle down and get to work on it.

But it's not Monday morning, it's Sunday morning so I'm going to dive into the newspaper ads and figure out what we're going to do today. Supposed to be hot again. I'm guessing we'll run some errands and probably hang around the house some more. Thinking about giving Jack a haircut. We have Avatar to watch from Netflix. And next weekend is the 4th of July so we're having some friends over. I need to make some plans for that.

I think our first staycation went well. We packed in plenty of stuff but still relaxed a lot. I love being home and am grateful not to be on the road or in a motel this time around. But we won't sit still for long, we're already thinking about next year's big adventure :)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Staycation

I've been a bit under the weather lately so walking, cycling and yoga have taken a backseat to whatever's going on with my head. But it's given me time to plan our staycation. We went to Key West in April and had planned to go somewhere in the northeast, rent a cabin in the mountains or maybe even head out to Yellowstone in June. But the two trips were so close together, and Key West was not cheap, so we decided to do a staycation. No packing, no lodging fees and we have all the amenities of home at night because, well, we're at home. Plus the dogs can stay with us and we don't have to ship them off to Grandma's. We've also got a wedding and a birthday party that week so we'll be around to attend those functions.

Here's a look at the highlights: LST 325, Mesker Park Zoo, Reo's Holiday Drive-in, The Spirit of Jasper train excursion. And some of these attractions are absolutely free because we get tickets through work, like Holiday World, an Otters baseball game, and a Lincoln play at the amphitheater with a meal catered by Black Buggy. We will head out of town one day in order to go to Eddie Bauer in Edinburgh and grab some port at the Brown County Winery. But besides that, we're pretty much staying in the tri-state. In fact, I had other ideas about the Howell Wetlands, Burdette Park, Patoka Lake and Scales Lake Park in Boonville but I couldn't cram them all into the itinerary.

That's the great thing about a staycation. If you don't get to do everything you wanted to do, you can do it some other weekend because you live so close. You're not missing out on a thing.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Fresh Start

Why don't we make resolutions at the start of summer instead of the new year? It's the perfect time. Graduations and weddings are taking place. Babies are being born. A new batch of flowers has popped up during spring. There's a whole slew of fresh starts. What happens at the beginning of the year? From December 31st to January 1st, what really changes? Nothing. It's still cold. It's still dreary. It's still winter. Who wants to turn over a new leaf when it's gray and freezing?

That being said, I've started some new ventures lately. I'm wearing a pedometer now and trying to walk 6,000-10,000 steps a day. I'm also dabbling in yoga in the hopes it will ease my back pain. I've seen a doctor for a physical, something I haven't done in years. My last regular doctor was Dr. Syler back when I was a kid. I've chosen to go to clinics for the past 15 years for my infrequent medical care, where no one knows me or my medical history. Not a wise move. But now I've established a primary caregiver who has guided me in supplements and other medical advice. That's right. I'm taking my vitamins again. A bunch, too. Seems I have a low Vitamin D count that could be contributing to my back pain. I'm also on fish oil.

We're also busy with the regular events of May. We hit the wine fest over the weekend and that was a good time. I've been to a baby shower and a birthday party in the past few weeks. We're taking Mom and Dad up to Joni's this weekend to meet the new baby and hang out with the family. We have a wedding coming up in June plus our own anniversary. And I'd like to begin work on some house projects I've been thinking about but I don't know where to start.

Life is full and good.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Trending in 2010

Hell must be freezing over. So far this year, I've hooked up cable and internet at home, I upgraded the RAM on my computer to make it functional, I started tweeting, I joined Netflix, I'm shopping more online, I have a smartphone, I'm now texting and considering adding data, and I am thinking about watching Twilight. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME?

Actually it's all good stuff but I feel like I'm eating my words. But, hey, this is America. A girl can change her mind, right? What's that Sugarland lyric..."find what it means to be the girl, change her mind and change the world..." Well, I guess the world is changing me. And I'm enjoying myself so far. So if you have my phone number, I am welcoming any texts you send my way.

Right now, I'm trying to log on to Twitter to see when I actually started the account because I think it was this year but I'm not sure. But it's over capacity. I hardly ever use the thing but when I want to, it's impossible to log in.

Nevertheless, I think I'm fairly caught up on the trends for now. Moving on. Next blog might be on tipping. I've had several conversations with people recently about the art of gratuity and I feel further discussion is warranted.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mitzi Lately

It's been more than a month since we got internet at home, and I've only posted one blog. I thought I'd be writing more but I've been downloading music and shopping a lot online. And, of course, Facebooking. I've also been pretty busy this spring. We just got back from our Key West trip last weekend. A lot of preparation went into that one. And yesterday I took Mom to see Bon Jovi in Nashville. Pics of both can be seen on my Facebook page.

But busy times also lay ahead: Mother's Day and Hannah's birthday, which are usually celebrated on the same day, a trip to Joni's, another vacation in June, and plenty more stuff in between. I'm ready to grill out or something. But basically, things are pretty good right now. I'm getting back to weeding and landscaping the yard since it got warmer. Such a tedius job that I hate. Pmo is trying to get my motorcycle going again. And Key West taught me that I am not fit enough for snorkeling and bicycling all over an island without suffering a physical hangover, so I'm trying to recommit myself to be more active. I might try swimming and riding this summer along with walking the dogs.

Speaking of, Bug and Jack had a nice vacation all their own at "Grandma's" where they rode the four wheeler with Dad, taunted Simba (Mom and Dad's pug) and visited with neighbors. But Jack was definitely ready to go home when we came to pick them up. He always jumps up in my arms. Bug was indifferent, he always makes himself really comfortable there. And he doesn't jump :)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lazy Sunday

Here's a status report of what we're all doing right now. Jack is tearing up his new toy full of 6 squeakers. He's located and chewed up 4 so far. Bug is resting on the couch. He's been holding up one of his front paws today, so he's not feeling very well and having a hard time getting around. Pmo is playing on his new netbook in the kitchen. And I'm in the recliner with my computer. That's right. Our household now has the internet. And cable TV. Welcome to 2010.

We went to visit Pmo's granny yesterday. We took the dogs and they had a run-in with Granny's cat, Hairy Potty. Both dogs got swatted in the cat attack. I'm not sure if that's what troubling Bug. I can't see any scratch or wound on him. I'll give it a few days and see if he gets better. Other than that, we had a good visit with Granny and brought barbecue from Marion. So. Good.

I'm about to make an online order for sone computer memory. My laptop is working much better after I asked our IT guy at work to give it a once over. But he advised me to get some RAM, so that's what I will do. Jack is now on the recliner with me, at my feet, taking a break from the squeaky toy. I'm thinking about making steaks along with mac and cheese for dinner. Maybe some vegetables. I love lazy Sundays. Plus we got jipped an hour because of daylight saving time. Why start any complicated projects? Just relax. And look forward to the Apprentice tonight on NBC.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Movie and a Dinner

The older I get, the more comfortable I want to be. That means dinner and a movie is not much of an option anymore. Why? Because I eat a big meal and get sleepy. So what's the use in spending big bucks to go to a movie afterward? Plus my clothes fit a bit tighter. I'd rather be in the recliner in my pajamas than sitting upright in a hard seat in the movie theater wearing jeans and a blouse.

I used to enjoy dinner and a movie all the time in high school. Every weekend, we'd head to Owensboro, hog out on a good meal, and then catch a flick. And still have enough energy to drag Main when we got back home. But I think somewhere between college and now, I got tired. I just can't do it anymore. I don't want to do it anymore. And I don't have to.

But I like to get out every once in awhile. And I don't miss out on all the fun of the movie theater experience. So I reversed it: movie and a dinner. It's cheaper, it's earlier, and I don't have to go to bed as soon as I get home either. I can have the evening out as well as enjoy a night at home. Just go to a 4pm showing, follow it up with Mexican food and I'm home by 8pm, in my recliner, fat and happy.
I'm hoping to convince Pmo to go see "Alice in Wonderland" with Johnny Deep when it comes out next month. We'll probably stop by Fiesta Acapulco afterward for some quick and delicious food. Maybe play some Wii when we get home and call it a night. Now that's what I call entertainment.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Let's Talk TV Part 2

I decided to take care of my Target TV problem after work on Saturday. I don’t usually work weekends, but I was helping with a Super Bowl special we were taping for Channel 44. So after a couple of hours at the station, I took something back to JC Penney and headed to Target. I first encountered a lady that had no idea what I was talking about and also did not want to pay attention to me. Her husband had come through the door and she was more interested in greeting him than helping me. Then she asked her manager for help and I felt better knowing we were about to get down to business.

The problem was the manager couldn’t refund the TV then sell it to me again because it had the same serial number. Also, I had waited too long to come back and my temporary card (a receipt) had expired. For the record, the sales guy told me to wait several days so I wasn’t just taking my sweet time. Add that to the fact that customer service would not give me my account number for security reasons and I didn’t have my card yet. So after 45 minutes of trying to figure this out, I walked away with all my receipts and no closer to solving the problem.

Unbeknownst to me, there were 2 different times on Saturday that I could have gotten the Target card number. The first was when I was about to check the mail before I left home, but instead decided to let Pmo get it when he came back from the gun show. The second was when I thought about calling Pmo while I was at Target to see if, by chance, the card had come in the mail. Which it had. And if I had had it with me, the process would have gone a lot smoother and I wouldn’t have had to go back on Sunday. But I wasn’t expecting the card so soon. I had only opened the account 6 days before. I wrote down the Target manager’s work schedule so I wouldn’t have to go through this whole thing with someone else and knew she was working Sunday. So I went in just after 2pm and everything worked out swimmingly. Finally.

Here’s something else I didn’t know. When I opened the card, I got a 10% off coupon that I could use for one day, all day. Apparently, I could have used it on the TV but, once again, the sales guy did not tell me this. Much to my surprise, I was able to use it during the return/resell process and buy the TV cheaper, $449 plus tax. I also used the 10% on a Mamma Mia DVD I’d been thinking about buying. I searched the store for something bigger, even looked at crockpots, but nothing really appealed to me. I spent way too much time looking at purses and finally decided that was the last thing I needed. My purses have their own closet.

There was one more thing at Target that ticked me off. Toward the end of my customer service journey, I walked past a display of Tostitos and dip on sale. I needed some for the Super Bowl so I decided to take advantage. The chips were 2 for $5 with a free jar of salsa or cheese. After reading the sign closer, I discovered it was a certain size chip and a 15 ounce dip. But there were several different size chips in front of me and no 15 oz dips in sight. Only 20 ounce. I had to go back to the normal chips and dip section to get the 15 oz salsa because I knew the 20 oz wouldn’t pass the cashier. But somehow I ended up with the wrong size chips and it rang up wrong at the counter anyway.

I got it straightened out, but the point is the display is so misleading. Your average Joe is going to walk by it, see the sign, grab two random bags of chips and a 20 oz cheese dip, not pay attention when the cashier rings it up, and get ripped off. How hard would it be to stack that display with the right items? How hard is it to offer a sale and then deliver it? Why do some stores make customers work so hard for a deal? We already have to make the effort to read all the ads, cut out dozens of coupons, keep tabs on the expiration dates, watch every item that rings up at the counter, and deal with stupid sales guys who tell you a promotion that’s been advertised is not available when it really is, and give you a 10 percent coupon that you could use on a very expensive TV, but fail to tell you that you could use it!

Whew. I’m exhausted.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Let's Talk TV

Pmo and I have been thinking about getting a bigger TV for some time now. We saw some deals around Black Friday, but we weren’t committed to the idea yet. Plus, we really didn’t need one. I mean, who really needs a bigger, flat screen TV? It’s purely a want at this point. And we like to wait and cash in on a good deal when we can.

We’d been talking about buying a Wii for some time when Walmart decided to sell them for $199 and give away a $50 gift card with it right before Christmas. So when I saw some Super Bowl bargains on TVs in this week’s newspaper ads, I decided to get serious about the purchase. We thought we could manage a 32 or 37 inch, but after measuring the cubbyhole where the TV sits, we discovered we had more room to work with. 41 inches in fact.

Target’s new promotion allows you to buy a 32 inch TV or bigger, open one of their credit card accounts, and pay no interest until September. Perfect, right? I can pay off a TV in 8 months. And even though the interest rate after September is pretty high, I can close the card or just keep the balance low so I can pay it off every month. So after running a few errands on Sunday, we ended up in the electronics section at Target. We found the 42 inch TV for $499 that was in the ad. We measured the floor model and discovered we had just a few centimeters to spare on each side, but it would fit our space. And the price was right.

I found a sales associate and told him what I wanted and how I wanted to pay for it. He told me I could get the TV and I could open the account, but I couldn’t put the purchase on the account. What? That’s the whole point of buying the TV and getting the card! He said there was some sort of glitch in the system. I could pay cash for the TV then come back later, get my money refunded, and put the purchase on the Target account after the glitch was fixed. Hello! If I could pay cash for the TV, I wouldn’t need the 0% interest on the credit card! I told the sales guy I would think about it, and he walked away. Then I stood there and mulled over it for a bit, and decided to wave the guy back over to discuss it again. It didn’t make any sense that a store would advertise a promotion, then turn around and say, no, we can’t do that. Even if there is a glitch, they have to appease you, right?

After arguing with the sales associate some more, I discovered he really didn’t explain the situation to me very well in the first place. Turns out I could buy the TV with a different method of payment, like another credit card, and also open the Target Account. Then when the glitch was fixed, I could come back and get the purchase taken off my credit card and put it onto the Target card. Now we’re talking. Why didn’t he say that in the first place? His whole attitude from the beginning gave me the impression that the store was offering something I couldn’t have. And the whole pay with cash thing just threw me for a loop.

But here’s the kicker. I bought the TV and opened the Target account, which is super easy by the way. They just scan your license and you fill out a few questions on the electronic pad and boom, you’re done. No paper application to fill out, it was so sweet. But the TV purchase ended up on the Target card, so I didn’t have to put it on another credit card after all. Or fool with cash. The sales associate was surprised and said, “It wasn’t supposed to do that.” Seriously? I went through all that confusion and crap, and the damn thing works? But it wouldn’t let him scan the 0% interest form which I will have to go back and take care of later this week. You know, when that glitch is fixed.

We got the TV home and went to work on setting it up. It’s a tight fit, but it’s in there. I prefer to think of it as maximizing our space. And it’s a bit crooked. We can’t determine whether it’s our TV stand or the stand that’s attached to the TV. I don’t know. We’ll figure it out. But we got a big TV for a good price and I won’t have to pay interest in the long run. That was the goal all along. Just took awhile for it all to make sense.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Loss for Words

My co-worker lost a pet this week. He was a wiener dog that had to be put down because his liver was failing. The story broke my heart and got me thinking about my own pets’ mortality. Bug and Jack are no spring chickens, although Jack’s got enough energy for all four of us. But Bug’s about to turn nine and Jack will be seven in the fall. Bug’s also had his share of health problems. So I know the time is coming. It makes me wonder how I’ll handle the situation.

When I was growing up, my dad always took care of our pets who passed away. I can’t begin to count how many animals he’s buried over the years: dogs, cats, rabbits, sheep, pigs, even horses. There’s the story of Gray Lady. Dad had to dig a hole with the backhoe to bury her because she was such a large horse. But Hank, our other horse, climbed into the grave with her and wouldn’t leave her side. It took a lot of coaxing and pulling to get him out.

When Hank died just last year, Pmo and I had just come home from our honeymoon. We were pulling into the driveway and I could see Dad waist high in the pond pulling on something. Mom said she saw Hank in the water earlier. Dad figured he had stumbled into the water and just couldn’t get out. He was pretty old, too. Dad had to get the tractor to pull the lifeless Hank out of the pond in order to lay him in the ground.

Now it’s my turn. When my pets die, my dad’s not going to be here to take care of it. I’ll be the one to bury them or maybe even cremate them. I’ll have to decide whether to get a new dog or just let it be for awhile. They say death is a part of life, but a dog’s life is not that long. So if you invite these furry friends into your life, you’re going to go through several times over. But thinking about all of this makes me hold onto Bug a little tighter. Not get so mad at Jack when he messes up. And bless Pmo’s heart for putting up with all of us.

“Well, I’ve been afraid of changes ‘cause I built my life around you.
But time makes you bolder, children get older, I’m getting older, too.”
-Landslide by Fleetwood Mac

Thursday, January 7, 2010

My Resolve

I'm not big on making resolutions, much less keeping them, but I thought I'd try my hand at things I could improve on in 2010.

First up, reading. I have tons of books I've never read. I have tons of books that I have read but I should flip through again because I've forgotten what's in them. I just think I have some form of ADD. I'd much rather watch TV or a movie than read. And now that we have a Wii, my attention span has probably gotten worse. But I'm going to try. My problem is I'll start a book and not finish it. I've got two right now I can think of that have bookmarks in them. Must. Stimulate. My. Brain. I also think because I read so much at work that I tend to shy away from it in my free time. I'm constantly reading scripts, emails, articles, press releases, etc. Okay, maybe I skim some of those things. Sue me.

Second, taking my vitamins. I try to take pills like iron, vitamin D, calcium, and cranberry every day because I have experienced their benefits and know they do their job. But I just forget to take them. I have an alarm set to go off every day at 1pm to take my vitamins, but somehow I still manage to leave the house without them. This should be pretty simple fix. Just take the damn pills.

Third, being on time. Anyone who works with me can tell you I'm lucky if I get in the door by 2:10pm. I'm supposed to be at work at 2pm. We have our first meeting at 2:15pm. And I leave each night at 10:35pm. This, again, should be pretty simple and just a matter of getting ready and taking the dogs out with a cushion of time to spare. Not doing very good on this one.

Fourth, paying off more debt. I proudly paid my car off this week, six months early. Of course, the heat went out that very night and cost us about $500. But that's another story. Next thing to pay off is the motorcycle, then the student loan, then THE HOUSE. I don't count my credit cards because they both have a relatively small amount on them that I can probably get rid of in a few months. It's an amazing feeling to actually have money to spare. I usually put what I can into savings and then live off of two or three hundred dollars every couple of weeks. But lately I've been able to keep a little more pad in my checking account just to see what it feels like.

Fifth, snuggling with Bug. I've realized that I don't snuggle with him anymore. When I lived on the west side of Evansville, it was just me and the dogs. Bug would always lay with me on the couch. Jack, not so much. But they both slept in the bed with me. Bug had to be under the covers as close to me as possible. Jack, not so much. But after Pmo and I moved in together, the tables turned. I ended up in Pmo's recliner most of the time, and Pmo ended up on the couch with both dogs. Even when I'm there by myself in the morning, I just tend to avoid the couch and stick to the recliner. And since the dogs sleep in their own room now, I hardly ever cozy up to Bug. But that's going to change.

Sixth, getting mad. We all know I have a temper and can fly off the handle if I'm in the right mood. This will probably be the most difficult. So difficult I almost didn't put it on the list because I don't think it's possible. I've tried counting to ten. I've tried stepping back from the moment and taking deep breaths. Nothing really works. I think it's a matter of willpower, and people not pissing me off. I can't stand three things: laziness, stupidity, and perkiness. If you come at me with all three, you're in BIG trouble. And once you get on my so-called shit list, there's not really a way to get off of it. But that's not the point. The point is me getting mad all the time. And stopping it.

Seventh, taking more trips. This is a no-brainer. Pmo and I are already picking out dates and thinking of places to go. Washington DC, Memphis TN, Key West FL, and Napa Valley CA are some locations we're kicking around. Of course, the trip taking is directly related to number four, paying off more debt. You've got to have money to travel.

I seem to have carved out a huge list of ways to better myself. Will I do it all? Probably not. If I had to knock off two items, it would be getting mad and being on time. I know myself. It's not going to happen. But I hope to somehow pull of the rest. And not be reminded of them when I don't. That would really piss me off.

P.S. Can I throw in visit more wineries and drink more wine? That, too, probably won't be a problem. And notice I didn't mention eating right and exercising more. I'll try to make more of an effort, but who are we kidding?