Sunday, October 31, 2010


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


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.