Monday, March 31, 2008

Fun Monday

For this week's Fun Monday, Robin asked us to list our favorite quotes from people who inspire us. You're thinking I picked Jimmy Buffett, right? Ha! Gotcha! That would be too predictable, brothers and sisters, and I like being unpredictable. It keeps people on their toes.

I have lots of sources of inspiration. Most of them are people I cross in everyday life. My parents are a great inspiration to me, and I could give a whole list of those parental sayings, like "Shut the back door. Were you born in a barn?" or "I don't care what everyone else's parents say, you're not going" or my all time favorite, "Knock that off or I'll jerk a knot in your tail". I could quote Miss Katherine at church, who is a huge inspiration, but I've already blogged about her. You can go here to read that one. Instead, I've chosen famous ladies who inspire me. Below are quotes from women I love: Erma Bombeck, Dolly Parton, Zelda Fitzgerald, Cher and Eleanor Roosevelt. I love these women for their individuality and their choice to live life in their own way. They didn't (or don't) worry about what people think about them and achieved great things in the process. I love their gift for words and for practical, down to earth wisdom, so here are a few gems from some strong women. And can I just say, I really, really miss Erma... Oh, and forgive the misalignment of Eleanor's photo. She just wasn't cooperating this morning, but as usual she was doing things her way....

People shop for a bathing suit with more care than they do a husband or wife. The rules are the same. Look for something you'll feel comfortable wearing. Allow for room to grow.

My theory on housework is, if the item doesn't multiply, smell, catch on fire or block the refrigerator door, let it be. No one cares. Why should you?

When mothers talk about the depression of the empty nest, they're not mourning the passing of all those wet towels on the floor, or the music that numbs your teeth, or even the bottle of capless shampoo dribbling down the shower drain. They're upset because they've gone from supervisor of a child's life to a spectator. It's like being the vice president of the United States.

Marriage has no guarantees. If that's what you're looking for, go live with a car battery.

I still close my eyes and go home - I can always draw from that.
I'm not going to limit myself just because people won't accept the fact that I can do something else.
If you don't like the road you're walking, start paving another one.
We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.

I've always taken risks, and never worried what the world might really think of me.

The trouble with some women is that they get all excited about nothing - and then marry him.
I don't need a man. But I'm happier with one. I like to have someone I can touch and squeeze and kiss. But I don't fold up and die if I don't have a man around.

I don't want to live -- I want to love first, and live incidentally.

Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold.


Anyone who thinks must think of the next war as they would of suicide

A little simplification would be the first step toward rational living, I think.

Friendship with ones self is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.

I have spent many years of my life in opposition, and I rather like the role.

If life were predictable it would cease to be life, and be without flavor.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

One's philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes... and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.

Probably the happiest period in life most frequently is in middle age, when the eager passions of youth are cooled, and the infirmities of age not yet begun; as we see that the shadows, which are at morning and evening so large, almost entirely disappear at midday.

Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.

When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.

With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.

Women are like teabags. We don't know our true strength until we are in hot water!

You can never really live anyone else's life, not even your child's. The influence you exert is through your own life, and what you've become yourself.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

With A Little Poo on my Heels, No Doubt


This doesn't mean you're country, just funky.
You've got a ton of attitude and confidence.
You're unique, expressive, and even a little bit wacky.
You wear whatever you feel like and you have your own sense of style.
You are straight shooting and honest. You tell people how it is.
Low maintenance and free wheeling, you're always up for an adventure.
You should live: Where you can at least get to wide open spaces
You should work: In a job that allows you to take charge
This one was right on target, guys. Go see what kind of shoe you are.
I got this one over at Nekked Lizard's place.

Fun Monday Alert

Need a way to meet a few new blog friends? Creativity in a rut? out of ideas? It's not too late to get in on Fun Monday. Head on over to Robin's place for instructions. This week's topic is about inspiration. Go on. What are you waiting for? See you tomorrow morning with my Fun Monday post.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Here I Come To Save The Day

I recently stumbled on Papa T.'s secret identity. By day he poses as a mild mannered senior citizen with a fondess for books on tape and all things Hostess. But underneath the wire rimmed classes, boyish smile and flannel shirt lives the caped crusader I call....(cue super hero music)...Random Man. His mission? To save the Hula-gens from boring conversations. It's just another little part of that Dementia Lite roller coaster we're riding.

Just when we least expect it, he pipes up with a story or anecdote that has nothing to do with the current topic of conversation. Like last night when we were eating at (everyone say it on the count of 3)...Cracker Barrell. Over salads and iced tea we were chatting about old Christmas parties when out of nowhere he rattled off a long story about his elementary school algebra teacher. We all looked at each other and whispered, "Random". A few nights ago we were debating politics, which frankly, can be explosive with the liberal/ultra conservative mix in this family, when he stopped our Hillary/Obama discussion with a story about his days as a school superintendent. Random. Sometimes we don't even have to be talking and he'll whip out his cape, pull a story out of the blue and tell it. Random. It used to happen once in a while. Now it happens just about every time we're together, and we usually get a good chuckle out of it.

What isn't so funny is the erosion of those little filters that should prevent him from saying things that are rude. He was always a very diplomatic, polite man, and often he still is. But sometimes he isn't. Frequently, he says exactly what he's thinking without any regard for his surroundings or people's feelings. Like the night we were eating at.....yes, Cracker Barrell......when an old acquaintenance walked up and chatted with Papa T. and Mama J.. When the nice lady walked off, she was about an eighth of an inch out of earshot when Papa T. said loudly, "Boy, she sure has put on weight." Immediately, five of us dove under the table in search of an imaginary dropped biscuit. Not random. Not funny. Very embarrassing. What's worse is that when we call him on it, he says something like, "It's true" or "I don't care". He used to never be that way.

There are signs that these filters will continue to deteriorate and his mouth will become more of a problem. There will probably be a day when we can no longer take him out to eat for fear of offending too many people or causing him and us great humiliation. I hope that's a long way off. Otherwise, we're going to have to get a mask for Random Man, and maybe masks for the rest of us so we can hide our identity when eating at the CB. I think we'll leave the lycra tights at home, though.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Boxing Springs

I’ve talked in my sleep for years. Apparently, I don’t squeeze in enough words during the daylight hours and have to ramble throughout the night to catch. No surprise there, right? I’ve been known to twitch a little and flail my legs occasionally. But I’ve never walked in my sleep, gotten up and eaten something out of the fridge or tried to beat up someone while asleep…until last night.

I sleep soundly. Really. Soundly. As in a tornado could roll through the middle of our house, and I wouldn’t notice. Tornadoes rolling through our home in the middle of the night are a real possibility in this part of the country so the weather radio sits on the nightstand right by my head. Anyway, I was in a deep, deep sleep last night when I started dreaming that a serial killer was sneaking up on me to attack me. (I’m such a drama queen, even in my sleep.) In the dream, I pretended I didn’t know he was there and waited until his hands were starting to close around my neck before I started fighting back. I smashed his nose with a right jab, and hit his chin with a left uppercut. Only problem is that I was really swinging, and I did it just as Hubby rolled over and laid his arm across my waist. If he hadn’t have moved quickly, I would have Sugar Rayed him to the other side of the Posturpedic. I don’t know if it was the dream or the movement, but I woke up to find myself kicking and swinging both arms with all my strength. Hubby was stunned to say the least, and so was the dog that jumped up from his spot at the end of the bed and started running for cover. I came within a hair of punching Hubby in the face. When I stopped I was wide awake and stunned. I couldn’t believe what I had done. Fortunately, Hubby was so tired he shrugged it off and went right back to sleep. However, I laid in the dark for a long time wondering how I could be so out of control and cursing myself for spending time on the internet because in my dream my attacker looked like this.

A little BraBABY karma perhaps?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Bra Humbug

Mama J. loves laundry. In Marie Barone like manner, she worships at the Maytag alter several times a day, doing one load after another. In her house, underwear can’t mingle with towels, socks can’t mix with jeans and so on and so on. There is no diversity in her laundry room, causing her to wash multiple loads consisting of three or four items. I, on the other hand, stuff my machine full, hit the cold button, say a couple of Hail Mary’s and pray that nothing bleeds onto anything else. I like to live on the edge, you know. I also have a lot of pink panties. Now that Hubby is retired and Teen Angel needed extra chores in order to get a cost of living raise in her allowance, they do most of the laundry while I’m at work, and that’s just fine with me. There’s nothing I like better than walking in the back door and hearing the hum of a dryer full of freshly washed drawers. (That’s underwear to you non-rednecks.)

Mama J. is even more obsessive about ironing. When her children were young she ironed their play clothes. (Insert your favorite expletive here.) She even ironed her sheets until we shamed her into stopping that. Although, I still think she does it on the sly and fibs to us about it.

Over the years, she has tried to improve my attitude toward laundry. She has washed things for me to show me how it’s done. She’s recommended new types of stain remover, and she’s bought me some washing aids. These have included softener dispensers, those balls that bounce around in the dryer making a lot of noise, the thing you put ball caps in so you can wash them in the dishwasher…and now this.

A Bra BABY™. Apparently, she thinks our underwear might be in danger of deterioration in the spin cycle. She might be right. Notice how the box looks like a little washing machine? Now, even though I don’t give a flip about this kind of thing, I learned a long time ago to just accept it, try it once to make her happy, and eventually, it will go away, and I can go back to being a slouchy housekeeper. That’s what I’m doing with the Bra BABY™. Teen Angel and I gave it a whirl last night, and we had such a good time, I thought I’d share the instructions with you. Straps up, ladies! Men, follow along so that you can toss something about the Bra BABY™ into casual conversation with your wife or female friends, and they will think you care about their feminine needs. Be forewarned, you may be asked to buy tampons later.

This is what it looks like out of the box. I immediately looked around for a whiffle ball bat.

You’re supposed to open up the outer shell and take out the little shell inside. Like this.

At this point, you should pick up the shell, place it on your chest and dance around singing “Brickhouse”. Laugh at your cleverness. You can also place it on your head and pretend to be Mickey Mouse. Congratulate yourself on how funny you are. If you are a teenager, stop at this point and check your MySpace page because it’s already been at least two minutes since you checked it and HE might have sent you a message.

Here’s where it gets complicated. Hook the back of the bra together and place each cup around the ends of the inner shell. Then tuck the straps inside the inner shell and put the outer shell around the inner shell and close it. Huh? Or just shove it in and it will look like this.

Although it reminds me of this.

You’re all set, but there are some very specific instructions for the washing stage. Whew! It was at this point I wished I had mixed a margarita before I started. Have I mentioned the new tangerine grapefruit margaritas at Oh Charley’s are delish? Back to the bra thingy. You should always put the BraBABY™ in the washing machine before adding the rest of the load. It is intended for washing one bra at a time. Well, that’s fine because I usually only have one or two that are serviceable at any given time. You should not exceed three bra thingy’s per load. Caution when removing it from the dryer. It may be hot! And finally, the BraBABY™ is not recommended for padded D cup bras. Hello! If you’re a D cup, do you really need padding? Those of us with less than a D cup would argue a big fat NO! And if you are at least a D cup then keep it to yourself.

I’m sure this device is helpful to the ladies who are particular about their bras..and their laundry, but it seems like an awful lot of trouble to me. More trouble than I want to spend on washing my underwear. It will likely get more use on Teen Angel’s head. Whiffle ball anyone?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Guess What This Is

This is the kind of thing you deal with every day when you have a teenager in the house. I'll tell you what this is tomorrow. In the meantime, I thought it would be fun if you guessed what it is. Tip: Creativity is more important than accuracy.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Fun Monday

This one was tougher than I thought, simply because I couldn't make up my mind what topic to choose. This is a chronic problem for me. Too many choices makes me indecisive. It's why it takes me months to use gift certificates or weeks to pick tile for my bathroom floor. I want things to be "just right". Swampy's instructions were to pick a topic, any topic and use each letter of the alphabet to list items related to that topic. It's a method she used as a teacher, and a pretty good one, I think. Only problem is I couldn't pick a topic. I thought about favorite books, but that seemed routine. I considered entertainers I've seen live and actually could list something for all but eleven letters (I never caught Frank Zappa before he died or Van Halen before they fell apart.) I thought about famous quotes that appeal to me or a day in the life of a redneck, but frankly, those seemed unoriginal. I finally settled on "Moments in my Life". It's what I know best. Some are small. Some are big, but all of them happened and helped to shape me into the mixed up, wacky gal I am, so here we go....

A-Asked Hubby out for our first date. Yup, I did.

B-Birth of my daughter. One of the best days of my life, even though now that she's a teenager I'd like to put her back every now and then.

C-Childbirth without pain medication. Yes, really. College graduation in 1986. Cyst removed from my wrist. It was HUGE...the cyst not the baby.

D-Death of my 13 year old nephew. The point at which I really started to live.

E-Ears pierced for my 12th birthday. Back then they still used a needle.

F-Flipped over a three wheeler on a cinder road at age 14. I still have cinders in my elbow.

G-Graduation party busted.

H-Hoop skirt for senior prom. Honeymoon in Cancun.

I-Itchy allergies and sinuses eights months of the year.

J-Jimmy Buffett concerts X 3.

K-Kissed behind the library cart in grade school. I'm not naming names.

L-Lasik on my eyes. Best gift I've every given myself.

M-Most Humorous my senior year of high school. Married Hubby in 1990.

N-Never had the chicken pox. Although both of my brothers had them right before my senior prom, and I thought I would catch the pox and miss prom.

O-Organized TV coverage for three Presidential visits. It used to be part of my job. I've seen Presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush and Vice President Quayle up close. Interviewed Quayle and Clinton. Very cool.

P-Pom Pon squad in college. Yes, really. I still have the tights. Somewhere out there is a calendar photo of me and the squad with big hair and cheesy smiles.

Q-Quit television to regain my sanity.

R-Radio DJ. My first two jobs were in radio, and I loved it. Rocky Horror Picture Show rumble. One day I'll explain. Let's just say it was part of my oat sowing days.

S-Spring break in Fort Lauderdale during college. Swam in St. Thomas. Siegfried and Roy show in Las Vegas a few months before the big tiger incident. Snow skiing failure.

T-Ticklish all over. Very, especially on the neck.

U-Ugly fingernails. So ugly I have to cover them with acrylic. Comes from years of gnawing them to nubs.

V-Vices include cake.

W-Water skiing failure.

X-Xtra small hands. My ring size is about a four and a half. Can you say spindly?

Y-Youth group trips to amusement parks. Every summer those kids make me puke, but it's fun.

Z-Zelda Fitzgerald fascinates me. I know she was a crazy drunk, but I can't help it. It think it's her spirit and love affair with F. Scott that I love.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Rollin' and Tumblin'

Oh my God! Oh my God! Sissy got Eric Clapton tickets and she invited me!!!!! Woo Hoo!! Indianapolis, here we come in May. And only a few weeks after Jimmy Buffett in St. Louis. Sigh. There is a heaven.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Zip It

*Hick Language Alert-Two such phrases will be used in today's post. Their definitions are as follows:

1. "Pull a good one"-To do something stupid that causes yourself great embarrassment.

2. "Poop or Get Off The Pot"-Said when you want someone to hurry up and make a decision.

I am forty three years old, and I still don't know when to shut up. When you're born with the sarcasm gene, it refuses to lay low and keep quiet. It bubbles up and spills stuff out of your mouth that if often inappropriate or embarrassing. At least three times a day I say something that causes me to slap my hand over my mouth and wonder if I really said what I said. Like earlier this week when I was sitting in a church meeting and someone mentioned an upcoming dance involving young children. Someone jokingly asked what band they were going to have. Before I knew it, I blurted out the name of a local band that's played at every cigarette laced, whiskey soaked bar and dance around here for the last thirty years. Thankfully, not everyone heard me because as the preacher (who did hear me) said, that was just wrong. I swear, I couldn't stop myself. I wasn't done, though.

I pulled a good one yesterday when Teen Angel and I went shopping. The 40% off sale at one store lulled us into thinking that swimsuit shopping for each of us at the same time might not be TOO miserable, so I picked her up after school and headed to the local mall. Now, you should know that even though roughly 60,000 people live in my county, it is a VERY small area. Everybody knows everybody. I frequently forget that. As we circled the busy parking lot I spied a parking space and was going to slide in when I saw that a van was eyeing it too. The van's driver paused, inched forward, stopped again and finally pulled toward the space. I drove on past and circled around to another spot opposite that one. As I pulled in, the van was pulling through her empty spot into mine. I stopped. She stopped. I backed up and headed back around to pull into the ORIGINAL spot. "Gee whiz, lady! Make up your mind. Poop or get off the pot!!," I hollered to no one in particular. And yes, I did clean that up a smidgen in order to keep this site family friendly. When I finally got parked, I looked at the van's driver's who was getting out of her vehicle and said to Teen Angel, "Oh my God. That is Mrs. ***** from church." Teen Angel's mouth dropped about four inches, and I felt like crawling into the floorboard. This lady is an old family friend, and we just love her. Fortunately, Mrs. **** didn't see me and didn't hear what I said, so I turned to Teen Angel and said, "See, that's what happens when you yell at people you don't know. Don't do what I did. It's bad, very bad." Her response? Lots of laughter and the ol' "Wait til' I tell Dad". I felt three inches tall for the rest of the day. Why oh why, can I just not keep my mouth shut, I wondered.

After forty three years, I can't blame it on anything but me and my lack of trying hard enough. So, I am going to make a better effort...really....I swear. It's time for me to poop or get off the pot.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

20 Reasons Why I Wish I Was Still 10 Years Old

1. I wouldn’t have to wear these dad gum pantyhose all day.
2. I could sleep in Saturday morning and then watch cartoons without any guilt.
3. I could eat all of the Girl Scout cookies I wanted without them going straight to my hips.
4. I wouldn’t have to wear underwear with under wires.
5. I could run through the grass hunting Easter eggs Sunday afternoon and maybe get a big white chocolate bunny.
6. I could eat the tail off the bunny first and giggle about it.
7. I would have only ten more school days until Spring Break.
8. I would have only 45 more school days until summer vacation.
9. I would get two and a half months of summer vacation.
10. I wouldn’t have to pay $4000 in federal taxes by April 15th.
11. My clothes could all be worn with tennis shoes and flip flops.
12. My skin would still be soft.
13. Makeup wouldn’t matter.
14. Nothing would sag.
15. Old folks would give me quarters just for being cute.
16. I would be allowed to take a nap every day if I wanted.
17. Someone would drive me everywhere I go.
18. I wouldn't have bags under my eyes.
19. I could play outside until dark.
20. Just about everything would still be exciting…even the small stuff.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Piece of Cake

*Warning-This post contains obscene amounts of sugar and butter. Some subject matter may not be suitable for dieters. Viewer discretion is advised.

I love cake. Really, I do. It’s one of life’s greatest luxuries. It’s one of my favorite food groups. To me, there is no bad cake, just cake and better cake. It’s the one thing I have a tough time staying away from. I gave up cake for Lent last year and thought I would die before I could eat it again, especially that day we sat at one of my favorite restaurants and that horrible, evil Teen Angel ate a big ol’ piece of strawberry cake right in front of me. Punk. We had two kinds of cake at Super Cop’s wedding this past weekend, chocolate and white. The whole time I was sitting through the ceremony I was thinking about the big hunk of cake I was going to get afterwards. Hand to God. I couldn’t quit thinking about it. What to choose? Chocolate? White? I chose the white. Not that I don’t like chocolate. I do, but when given a choice I’ll pick the white. I’m not very choosy, but I do have my favorites.

My absolute favorite is Italian Cream. It really doesn’t get any better than butter, sugar, cream cheese and pecans.

A close second is strawberry. I’ll eat any food that’s pink, especially the strawberry stuff.

A fancy strawberry cake is pretty, but I really prefer the old fashioned kind.

As I matured I grew to love carrot cake, probably because it too, is covered in cream cheese frosting. I’ll eat anything covered in cream cheese frosting…cakes, cookies, dead possum.

Another all time favorite is coconut cake.

I like the ones you make at Christmas that have to sit in a tin for three days before you can eat it. Ho, ho, ho and a Merry Christmas to me.

I’m even a fan of plain ol’ sheet cake. When I supervised a newsroom of about forty people, I bought sheet cake all of the time. We celebrated everything, because nothing puts a smile on the faces of forty, aggressive, Type A personalities like butter cream frosting...or cream cheese frosting.

I don’t get much cake these days because Hubby is on a diet. I have to sneak it into my diet during the day or when he’s away, but it’s not enough. These days I think about cake all of the time. I crave it frequently…dream about it…lust after it….pine wistfully for it. On days like this, I pull out my recipe books and mull over the cake pages, wishing I could sit down and shove my face into a big old slab of Italian Cream cake…or strawberry cake…or coconut cake….or any cake. It wouldn’t be right to dream about it and not share that sugar goodness with you, so today I’m sharing my favorite cake recipe. It’s a chocolate cake. It’s not a pretty cake. In fact, it's rather plain looking, but looks can be deceiving. Once you bite into it, you’ll never want to try another chocolate cake again. It's delicious. It’s simple. You can’t mess it up, and it’s moist, moist, moist. So go forth my friends, bake a cake and think of me when you bite into it. Oh, and don't be afraid of the buttermilk. That's what makes it so good. I promise.
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 stick butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp. soda
1 cup water
4 Tablespoons cocoa
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
Stir together sugar, flour and soda. Set aside. Put the water, butter, oil and cocoa in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and pour over dry mixture. Stir well. Set aside. Mix buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Add to chocolate batter. Pour into greased and floured 9 X 13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Start the icing and have ready to pour over cake when cake comes out of oven.
1 stick butter
4 Tablespoons cocoa
6 Tablespoons milk
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 box powdered sugar
Place butter, milk and cocoa in saucepan. Bring to a boil. Be careful not to scorch. Add powdered sugar. Beat well. Add 1/2 cup pecans if desired.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sweat Inspiration

Janjanmom told me this week that I inspire her. I think that’s a supreme compliment, better than “You certainly don’t look 43 years old” or “Gee, your butt seems much smaller these days”, although I wouldn’t take a pass on those compliments. Our exchange made me think about the people who inspire me. Lots of folks inspire me: family, friends, historical figures and famous women. As I get older I find that the people who inspire me most are right under my nose, and they very often don’t know they have touched me in an important way.

One such person is a complete stranger. He doesn’t know me, probably hasn’t even seen me, but I’ve seen him…a lot. I first noticed this gentleman about two years ago. He was walking along the busy highway that runs through my community. He was very overweight. He moved slowly, sweating profusely. He appeared to be walking for exercise and was huffing and puffing his way down the road. Good for him, I thought. I hope he sticks with it. He did. In the months that followed I often saw him trudging along that same highway. One day I realized he looked a little slimmer. Eventually, I noticed he was walking much easier. He was getting more fit. I saw him sweat through the humid summer months, sweat through our humid fall, bundle up during the winter and bust out the short sleeves in the spring. I saw him get slimmer and slimmer…and faster. He began walking with purpose, pumping his arms and picking up his feet. He traded in his old tennis shoes for quality walking shoes. He became the incredible shrinking man. I got excited every time I saw him.

This past Saturday I saw him again and wanted to roll down the window and give him a big shout out. He was….running…yes, running. I felt compelled to pull over and give me a big bear hug, but that would have scared him to death and possibly resulted in some kind of assault charge against me, so I refrained. But I was cheering inside because he was a fraction of his former self and moving faster than ever…so much faster than when he started. I would guess that he’s lost at least 75 pounds. Hubby thinks it’s more like 100. Whatever it is, it’s wonderful. Sometime a couple of years ago he made a deal with himself…and he kept it. I’m sure there were many days when the weather was bad or he just didn’t feel like getting out there, but he did anyway. After months and months of hard work, he is getting his payoff. I love that guy. He reminds me that I have no reason not to get out there and exercise and for that I am grateful. He also reminds me of how persistence, time and hard work can yield great rewards. He inspires me, and one of these days I may just stop and tell him.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Speak Easy

In my last post I used the phrase “more relatives than you can shake a stick at”. Swampy asked where that phrase came from, and I honestly don’t know. It’s one of those sayings I’ve heard all my life. There are a lot of those in my vocabulary. We say some crazy things in this part of the country, things I just can’t explain. I know what they mean. I just can’t tell you WHY they mean what they mean.

People in this neck of the woods have a unique way of mangling and manipulating the English language. Laced with a heavy southern twang, it’s a confusing mixture of dropped syllables, bad grammar and mispronunciations. If you’re not from these parts, you probably don’t know what we’re saying half the time. Plop us down in the middle of New York City or Boston, and you’d almost need an interpreter to understand us. Often when I’m traveling people hear me speak and start quizzing me about where I live. I hear them whisper behind my back about “how quaint” I sound or how “cute” my accent is. It doesn’t feel quaint. It just feels normal to me. I forget, especially when I’m blogging, that it’s different….very different to a large part of this country’s population, not to mention the rest of the world. Because I write the way I speak and most of you are not from my little corner of the U.S. of A., I feel obligated to warn you that some odd sayings are likely to pop up on these pages from time to time, like they did yesterday. I also feel obligated to interpret some of them for you. If you want to impress (or confuse) a few of your friends, tell them you’ve been studying a second language and throw these out at your next dinner party.

Flat as a flitter-I don’t know what a flitter is, but it’s really flat. We generally use this phrase when referring to road kill….three day old road kill…on a well traveled road.

Broad as the side of a barn-This phrase is used to describe a really large person…as in Joe is as broad as the side of a barn. It’s often used in conjunction with “as big as a house”.

Won’t hit a lick at a snake-Used to describe extreme laziness. Watch me combine two sayings…If Joe won’t hit a lick at a snake he’s as lazy as they come.

Higher than a kite-We generally use this when discussing someone who has had one too many pain killers. Not to be confused with….

Drunker than Cootie Brown-Not Cootie Smith, Cootie Jones or Cootie Miller. It’s always Cootie Brown. I don’t know who Cootie was, but apparently, he was REALLY intoxicated. If you are drunker than Cootie Brown, you need to call a cab.

Having a large time-This is how you become drunker than Cootie Brown.

Wild as a deer-This is how we describe you if you spend too much time being drunker than Cootie Brown or higher than a kite. It involves a lot of other bad behaviors too, including being…

As loose as a goose-This means what you think it means, although I don’t know any geese that are promiscuous. You can be loose as a goose and have a large time, but that’s likely to lead to a lot of other problems, especially if you are drunker than Cootie Brown or higher than a kite.

Doesn’t have a pot to pee in or a window to throw it out of-This means someone is really poor. I suspect this one hearkens back to the days of chamber pots before indoor plumbing. Believe it or not, this phrase is tossed around in everyday conversation as if it doesn’t involve the disposal of bodily fluids. My mother uses this one a lot.

Tight as a tick-Always used after overindulging at the dinner table. Ever see a blood engorged tick on a dog? Nuff said.

That’s enough for one lesson, but I have dozens more. If at any time I lapse into Kentucky speak, just let me know and I’ll try to interpret for you. Just don’t be surprised at anything that comes out of my mouth. I am a product of my upbringing. Hey, while we’re at it, can anyone explain why folks in the northern states call soda “pop”? I thought it was all supposed to be called “Coke” no matter what brand it is. As in, “Would you like a Coke? Yes? What kind, Coke, Pepsi or RC?”

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Wedded Bliss

Whew! We are all wedding-ed out. Super Cop got married, a good time was had by all and the closest thing we had to a disaster was the temporary loss of a little heirloom item that turned up today. But let's not tell Baby Ruth about that, okay? What she doesn't know won't hurt us.

Super Cop got married in the same chapel my parents were married in 45 years ago. Hubby and I said our vows in the sanctuary of that church eighteen years ago, and two generations of our family have attended that church for decades, so it was kind of cool to have yet another wedding there. The fun thing about second weddings is that the event is not about "the wedding". It's about the marriage. No one's sweating bullets over bridesmaid shoes or bouquets. Everyone is pretty relaxed and ready to have a good time. We had great food, two kinds of cake and a lot of time with relatives I haven't seen in a while.

I have more relatives than you can shake a stick at. Daddy had eight brothers and sisters so his side of the family alone would fill up Yankee stadium. I can't even name all of my cousins. Several of Daddy's brothers and sisters were there yesterday, and as I spent time with them I realized there are a lot of years of marriage between them. Daddy and Mama have 45 years together. There's Uncle Paul and Aunt Betty who have been married for about 55 years, I think. Aunt Katherine and my late Uncle Bill had about fifty years together. Aunt Betty and Uncle Louis have been married for more than thirty years. The other siblings have racked up multiple decades of marriage, too. It's quite remarkable, especially given the tough times some of them have had over the years. As I listened to them talk and joke I realized that a sense of humor has been a big part of their partnerships, especially Aunt Betty's and Uncle Paul's. They crack me up. Well in their 70's, they are always sparring and teasing and provided me with the best laugh I had yesterday. Their conversation went like this:

Aunt Betty: He's getting so forgetful. One of these days he's going to leave the house, forget where home is and end up at someone else's house.

Uncle Paul: I hope she's good lookin'.

Aunt Betty: Ha. I doubt it. Just wait. He'll get lost. That's why I put his name in all of his underwear.

Uncle Paul: Like anyone would look.

Aunt Betty: Certainly not me.

Uncle Paul: You're naughty.

Aunt Betty: I know. Get your coat. Everybody's leaving and we want to get out of here before we have to help clean up.

Uncle Paul: Where did I leave my coat?

I hope Hubby and I are that funny when we're old. I know he'll be that forgetful. He already is. Hmm. Come to think of it, maybe I need to put his name in his underwear.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Wedding Songs

I’ve been putting together some music play lists and CD’s for Super Cop’s wedding reception this weekend. Once again, he has foolishly trusted his big sister to do the right thing. When will he ever learn? Actually, I’ve been on my best behavior and have put together a collection of appropriate material, ranging from his and his finance’s old favorites to romantic standards by Dean Martin and Louie Armstrong. I think it’s a rather nice mix of stuff that should be appropriate for the occasion. I wouldn’t want to do anything to tarnish the day. It doesn’t mean I haven’t been tempted to have a little fun, though. Really tempted…sorely tempted….just to throw in a song or two with a funny title that might cause a few guests to snort Starlight Punch through their noses in the middle of the reception.

Maybe it’s just my immaturity rearing its gnarly head because I think it would be really funny if something like Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get it On popped up in the play list. Or maybe a little Talk Dirty to Me by Poison. It would be awfully funny to see Aunt B.’s face when that one came on. Since I love my little brother AND I want to stay in this family, I will resist the urge. However, as someone who’s been married for eighteen years, I thought I would put together a separate CD to represent those years of marriage yet to come. Those years when the romance has worn off and you’ve spent time in the trenches battling bills, children and each other and are still hanging on. Ladies and gentleman, I give you:
Marriage-The Ultimate Collection.

1. Bills, Bills, Bills-blues favorite by Koko Taylor. For that never ending cycle of debt that increases exponentially with each year of marriage and the birth of each child.
2. Love is a Battlefield-Pat Benatar. Years 1, 2, 7 and 11 for most folks.
3. A Little Less Conversation & A Lot More Action-Elvis. What you long for after about the twelfth year.
4. Flirtin’ With Disaster-Molly Hatchet. When she reaches for the remote or he dares to truthfully answer the question “Does this make my butt look big?”
5. Chains-Patty Lovelace. Days when you wish you were the recreation director on a cruise ship instead of a spouse and parent.
6. Delirious-Prince. How you feel after spending the whole night wiping up vomit, washing sheets and praying for the diarrhea to stop.
7. It’s All Over Now-Rolling Stones. When you come home to find a new boat sitting in the driveway.
8. You Can’t Always Get What You Want-Rolling Stones. When the boat goes right back to the dealer.
9. Heaven Help Us All-Stevie Wonder. Your teenager gets his driver’s license.
10. Trouble-Pink. Your daughter starts to date.
11. Still Crazy After All These Years-Paul Simon. Your in-laws after about the fifteenth year.
12. Mad Season-Matchbox Twenty. Menopause.
13. Get this Party Started-Pink. The kids all move out.
14. Looks Like We Made It-Barry Manilow. Retirement.
15. I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little Bit More-Barry White. How to get through cuts 1-14.

Order your copy here. You won’t find this CD in any store. Act now and I’ll throw in a free “How to Stay Married for Fifty Years Kit” which includes a cattle prod, some rose colored glasses, a few Viagra tablets and a cheap bottle of wine. My darling brother gets a free copy of this and the music we’re playing at the reception…minus the Marvin Gaye and Poison.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Buffett tickets on sale this week! Ah, the first sign of spring.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Post Game Show

The trail run was definitely a learning experience for me. You learn a lot about yourself when you’re trudging through the woods for four hours, and it would be a mistake not to reflect on that. I am so very glad I did it, and I am proud to be able to say I did it. I wanted so badly to wear the green shirt they included in our race packet we picked up the night before the race, and I didn’t feel like I could wear it unless I finished the race. I will wear it out now. I wanted to sleep with it Saturday night, like Ralphie did with his Red Ryder BB gun in A Christmas Story. Putting it on was more satisfying than looking at seven loads of freshly washed and folded laundry on a sunny summer Saturday.

Also, it occurred to me that I wasn’t just running for myself Saturday. I was running for all you middle aged folks who want to try something but are afraid you can’t do it…for those of you who weren’t stars of the basketball team in high school but still have dreams of being an athlete. I hope YOU will leap with both feet into something you have been thinking about doing but have been afraid to try because you think you’re too old or that it’s out of your reach. The average age of the people in this race was 42. Every race I’ve been to, including this one, had several people who were obviously just trying to prove something to themselves and no one else. There are a lot of Phil’s, Joe’s and Hula’s out there, but I wish there were more. I encourage you to be one of them.

Among the many things I learned this past weekend:

1. Michael Jordan was right. Winning is 10% skill and 90% mental strength. I really get it now. I thought I understood that before the race, but I didn’t know diddly about having your mind in the right place until my little mental breakdown on Mile Marker Nine.
2. I picked a rough run for my first half marathon, especially with the weather. I should have tried a pavement course in Memphis, Nashville or St. Louis first. Trail running is a bear. I did add a stripe to my badge for doing it on ice and snow, though.
3. I need to train more before I try another half marathon. No doubt about it. I should not have had to walk any of that course. I didn’t even have the energy to crawl into the hot tub Saturday night. My legs are still sore, and I am not as far along in my training as I thought I was.
4. I am even more stubborn than I thought. Really…really..stubborn. Donkey with big ears stubborn…and while sometimes that’s a problem…sometimes it’s a good thing.
5. Overall, runners are nice people. They understand why you’re out there, when others around you don’t. They get it, and they are supportive of the strangers running around them. I can’t believe Phil was honest enough to tell me he cried during his first half marathon. He didn’t know me from Adam but was willing to share that because he understood what I was going through. Several other faster runners shouted out words of encouragement to me as they flew by me. I like my fellow runners. I really, really do.
6. Bloggers are great people, too. You guys left some really kind comments for me and said prayers for me Saturday. Thank you all so much for your support. It was absolutely wonderful, and I really appreciate it.
7. Most importantly, I am loved. I have an absolutely wonderful family. We have endured all kinds of heartaches together, many of which are waaay to personal to blog about, but we always prop each other up. There were more than 300 runners there Saturday, and while a few of them had a spouse or friend waiting on them, NO ONE had the welcoming party I did. I am one lucky gal, and if I never run another race, I feel as if I have won the best prize of all.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Going Home

March 8, 8:14am
I head into the trail for the second leg of the race. The quick visit with my family has buoyed my spirits and given me the confidence to go on. I don't realize yet how fragile my confidence is, though. My bathroom stop almost wasn't necessary making me worry a little about dehydration. Running in cold weather is tricky. You don't always realize how quickly you are losing fluids because you don't feel sweaty and hot like you do when you run in the heat. You can get into trouble fast. I make a mental note to force down more sports drink at each aid stop and to listen to my body if I start getting light headed.

Immediately the trail takes a steep rise, reminding my legs that I've been running two hours. I didn't make it to this part of the trail during my practice run the week before, so I don't know that the next three miles will be the toughest on the course. The path winds higher and higher, sucking the air out of my lungs and forcing me to slow to a crawl. The path is slick, and the wind off the lake is sharper and colder here. It pelts me in the face, making me wince. It blows snow from the tree branches onto my head, surprising me. It has blown over the tracks of the previous runners, making the trail less obvious. The lake is beautiful though. I try to take it in, but can't make myself care about its beauty. I am distracted by the slope of this hill. I am walking again. I just don't have the energy to move any faster. I stretch each leg higher and higher with every step, thinking the trail will drop any minute. It does not. I am reminded of the time we walked up hill to Clingman's Dome in Gatlinburg. My side starts to hurt. I try to ignore it. The sun is bright now. When did the clouds go away? I am bothered that I didn't realize this sooner. I take a step with my right foot and it slides out from under me. I grab a young tree next to the trail and hang on. I don't go down, but it startles me, and I realize how tired I am and how unprepared I am for twelve miles of trail. I have gone only a half mile since the welcome station pit stop, and I simply can't go on. I stand there holding onto the tree, trying desperately not to be frustrated. Just keep moving, Hula. Just keep moving. I cannot force myself to move. I am stuck to the tree, unsure of my next move. I want to go home. I think about how warm my bed is at home and how the world won't end if I bail. But bailing isn't easy. Going back down the trail to the welcome station is not a good option. It's too steep and too dangerous. I have to move forward, but the next aid station is a good three miles away. I just don't think I have the strength to take another step. I wonder how I got so low so fast. My confidence is gone. I feel completely out of my league. I realize I should have trained more. Up ahead I see Phil moving on slowly but surely. Joe is right behind him. I stand in my spot, glued to the tree. I decide to have a little chat with God...again.

All I ask for is strength and wisdom. I want to get out of this dadgum forest. I want to MOVE. I am mad at myself...and frustrated. Then it hits me. I finally realize just how much of a role mental focus plays in doing something like this. I thought I knew before now, but I really didn't. I get it now. I know I have lost focus and need to get it together. I make a plan. Just will yourself to get to the top of this hill, Hula, then focus on the next section. Break it down into tiny pieces and chew up each piece slowly. I focus my eyes on the top of the hill, point to the spot I want to be and force myself to turn loose of the tree. I take a step...and then another. It's as if my feet have become unglued. Ha! I am moving again, slowly. I have to pause next to another tree a couple of minutes later but pause only briefly. I press on and somehow, I am at the top of the hill. This forest may kick my butt but not without a fight from me. I see Phil in the distance. Joe is much closer to me. He is holding onto a tree and catching his breath. He moves again, and so do I, grateful for the small downhill slope ahead. It doesn't last long. Another big hill is in front of me, but I have just passed the nine mile marker. I feel a little better. I am a little closer to the aid station.

Mile Marker 10
I have trudged through another mile, stopping to catch my breath in several places but never stopping long. The last mile has been a struggle. I know it will take every ounce of energy and mental strength I have to scratch out the next couple of miles. I am trying to keep my mind focused on anything but the amount of miles left between me and the edge of these woods. I am walking the whole time. I cannot run. My left thigh is throbbing, and I'm hungry. I need an energy gel. I regret giving my fanny pack to Teen Angel back at the welcome station because it was weighing me down. I want to sit down. I think about sitting down. I think about those old movies where people wander around in the dessert or the frozen tundra and die because they sit down and can't get up. I laugh at how dramatic I'm feeling. I want to go home and sit down in my comfy recliner. I reach the top of another hill and smile because a big drop is ahead. Knowing I can make up some time I start running again. Hmm, not so bad. It feels okay. Not good, just okay. I am right behind Joe and he steps aside to let me pass. I can tell he is still struggling. I glance at my watch, realize I'm farther behind than I had hoped and decide not to check the time anymore. A little farther down the trail I suddenly hear pounding behind me and someone shouting, "Passing on the left." I jump off the trail as another runner flies by me. He is obviously on his second lap through the trails. I have just been lapped by a full marathoner. I am in awe. In the next ten minutes, two more runners pass me. One is wearing shorts and moving so fast he is sweating. I think he's the runner from China. He must be doing eight minute miles through these woods on snow and ice. Wow. Again, I feel out of my league, but before I can dwell on it I see the next aid station right in front of me. Please let them have an energy gel.

Aid Station 4
Phil is at the aid station. The volunteer manning the station tells us we're at mile marker eleven. It dawns on me I have to grind out only three more miles in order to finish this thing. Surely, I can handle three more miles, even if I have to walk the entire thing. I want to finish. It does matter if I me. It really does. I decide not to ask for a ride back to the finish line and watch Phil run down the trail. He seems strong.

I discover that one of the pitfalls of being in the back of the pack is that all of the good snacks are picked over by the time you get to the aid stations. The only flavor of energy gels is raspberry. It doesn't taste anything like raspberry. I suck it down anyway. I drink some water and sports drink but don't take advantage of the porta potty. I worry that I don't have to pee. I take off again. I don't see Joe anywhere behind me. The sun has started to melt a little of the snow on the trail, leaving slushy muddy spots on the course. Mud splashes over the tops of my shoes with every other step, and I am grateful for the duct tape wrapped around my shoes. My feet are dry. I just couldn't take a blister at this point in the game. The trail is easing out now. The hills are smaller and fewer. I start to speed up. Three more runners pass me. They are moving fast. I want to move with their fluidity and speed. I feel clumsy compared to them. Oh well. It doesn't matter. All that matters is finishing, even if I have to drag myself over that finish line. I will do this. I WILL do this.

Mile Marker 12
The gel is starting to kick in, or maybe it's just my confidence coming back. I feel better now. I am running all of the time, even leaping over a small fallen tree. I am almost giddy. I try to focus on the beauty around me but can't. I don't care about the scenery. I quit caring about the scenery some three miles back. I try to sing songs in my head. I write a blog in my head. I make a list of people I need to call. I look for Phil and can barely see him up ahead. I don't see Joe anywhere. I pass the twelve mile marker and shout for joy...out loud. Two more miles. I can do this. I know now that I can do this. In less than a half mile I will be out of the trails and back onto pavement. Sweet, glorious, even pavement. I reach a clearing and realize I'm not far from the trail head. I am moving at an even clip and feel good. I hear someone shouting my number and up ahead I see Hubby standing at the end of the trail. He is waiting for me, shouting me in. God, I love that man. I move even faster. Before I know it I am at the end of the trail. I grab a kiss from Hubby. He offers me water, and I turn it down. A race director asks to see my number. He has to record my lap. I pull up my jacket and show him the #94 pinned to my chest and shout "94". He points to the aid station on my left and tells me I can head right toward the highway and the finish line when I'm ready. I ignore the aid station. Go home, Hula, I think. Go home. Take it on home and finish what you came to do. One point seven miles of running left. That's all. It seems like nothing compared to what I've just done. I start running again.

The Last Mile
As I near the highway I see Phil to my left. He is walking. He has lost his steam. As I near him I tell him I can't imagine doing three more laps like the 50 milers. He laughs and talks about how he's lost his wind. I tell him this was my first half marathon. He says I'm doing great. "You're moving well and you're still smiling," he says. "The first time I ran a half marathon I cried," he tells me. I am grateful for his honesty. I don't feel so bad about my mental breakdown on mile nine. I wave bye and move on. I'm anxious to go home. I hit the highway and start up the hill over the canal. It doesn't seem as tall as it did when I came over it four hours earlier. Hubby drives by me in the van, rolls down the window and whistles at me. I laugh. I have snot running out of both nostrils. The sun has melted most of the ice and snow off the highway. I have a clear path. I start to lose steam about a half mile from the finish line and have to walk for a few yards. Up ahead I see the race volunteer waving me to the right onto the road that will lead me into the tiny town that hosts the finish line. I start to run again. I want to finish running. I no longer feel the throb in my thighs or the dryness in my mouth. I am tired, but I don't feel tired. At this moment I feel like I could run forever. I AM going to finish. I really am. I see my family standing near the finish line with their signs and grass skirts. They start shouting, beckoning me toward the end. I pound away the last steps, waving to them as I pass them and breeze into the path marked by orange cones that takes me across the finish line. I did it. I shout for joy and immediately ask for my time. I can't resist. Four hours, ten minutes and 47 seconds. An eternity. When the results are posted, I will be near the bottom of my division. I had hoped to come in under four hours, but I am disappointed only for a moment. Teen Angel showers me with balloons and a gift, a white tank top covered in flamingos. I tell them I want a Coke, the real thing, not diet and with lots of ice. Hubby says we'll stop and get one on the way home. "Let's go home," I tell him, smiling. We start across the street when I look up and see Phil coming down the hill. He is headed toward the finish line. "Wait," I say. I start shouting at Phil, telling him to bring it home, telling him what a good job he did. He smiles gratefully as he passes me, and says thank you, thank you. Our eyes connect for a second, and a flicker of understanding passes over his face. He knows what this day means to me. I know what it means to him. I watch him cross the line. I wonder what happened to Joe. I hope he finishes, too. My exhaustion suddenly hits me, and I realize I need to sit down. "Okay, let's go home now," I say. "Let's go home".

Sunday, March 9, 2008

And They're Off.....

Saturday, March 8, 3:45am
The alarm clock rings. What an ungodly hour. I've never been good at rising early, but this time my eyes fly open. It seems like I went to bed only a few minutes ago, but really it's been six and a half hours, minus the hour I lost when I woke up at 12:30am and had trouble going back to sleep. The sound of the dog snoring while snuggled next to my hip finally lulled me back to sleep, but it wasn't enough. I feel tired. The race starts in two hours and fifteen minutes. I want more sleep, but I need to leave the house in a little more than an hour to get there in plenty of time. I roll over, peek out the window and see what appears to be about three inches of snow. Not too bad, I think, but then I see the wind wildly flapping our neighbor's flag and feel a little tug at my stomach. I refuse to check the temperature. I don't really want to know. It's obviously cold, so I stick with my original clothing plan, three layers on top, two on the bottom, hats and gloves. I try to eat some oatmeal but it sticks in my throat. Am I really ready for this? I decide to stop second guessing myself and just do it. I tug on my body hugging Under Armor shirt and pants, place a dry wicking shirt on top of that and cover it all up with a wind resistant jacket and pants. Later I'll add the sock cap, ear band and gloves and smear Vaseline on my face. One pair of thin, wicking socks goes on first, then a layer of plastic garbage bag (to keep water away from my feet), then a pair of thick socks and finally my shoes. I've wrapped them in duct tape to keep out snow and water. I double check my fanny pack and my after run bag, and we hit the door.

The roads aren't as slick as I thought they would be. They aren't great, but they don't slow us down. By 5:40am we arrive at the race site, a small town nestled between two large lakes. This is a popular tourist destination in the summer, and we will begin our run near a large group of sailboat slips. It is dark, but the first few slivers of light are peeking through the trees. The snow glistens on the road where I will soon be running, and the wind is wicked. The crowd is small, nothing like the 400 who registered to run. I estimate 100 have shown up. The weather has kept many people home. The runners I see milling around look like the die-hard, adventurous kind. I feel like I don't belong. I am out of my league this morning I think, but again, I refuse to think about what lies ahead. Just stick to the plan, Hula. Stick to the plan. Do the best you can and be happy that you tried your best. The world will not end if you don't make the fourteen, I tell myself over and over while I'm hopping up and down to keep from freezing. Runners are dressed in all kinds of garb. I see three people in shorts. Crazy yahoos. There are caps, face masks, colorful shoes and a lot of spandex. I am glad I'm not a man. I'd be worried about more than my fingers and toes. I don't see anyone I know. The locals have stayed home. Various accents swirl around me as people talk about different races they've run across the country and in Canada. They seem very nice but intimidate me. I slide to the very back of the pack. You're supposed to line up according to how fast you are. I know I will be one of the slowest. Besides, I want some folks to knock the snow off the roads before me. I'm afraid of falling, and so are the really strong runners from the way they are talking. My stomach is turning flip flops, and I just want to get started. We start eight minutes late because people are having trouble getting to the site.

We're off. The warriors start fast. Everyone else takes it slow with short shuffling paces, looking for breaks in the ice and snow. The crowd surges ahead and starts to separate as people find a comfortable pace. I keep my eyes on the pavement, hoping not to slide and fall. Before I know it, one mile is past me. Seven tenths of a mile more, and we will hit the trails that will cover 11.7 miles of this race course. 11.7 very hard miles. We near the first steep hill, a bridge over the canal with a beautiful view of the lakes. It's mostly daylight now and the snow is spectacular. It occurs to me that God has given me a beautiful gift in the snow. It is untouched and absolutely beautiful. I decide to be grateful and enjoy my surroundings. It's an opportunity to see this area as I've never seen it. As I top the hill, I can see the hot shots already rounding the first curve of the trail. They are shouting and moving fast as they travel along the banks of the lake. The water looks cold. I realize I have to pee. Geez, one mile into the race and I already have to pee. I hit the porta potty at the aid station near the trail entrance. The floor is slick, and I can hardly stand. When I'm finished, I take a deep breath and hit the ground running. It's time to tackle the trail. The trail is narrow and forces runners to run single file. Most of them are already ahead of me, but I don't think about that. I keep my eyes on the ground. The first runners have already pounded down the snow which is deeper here than it was at home. Some of the drifts are about six inches deep. The trail is snow covered and slick. I will need to be very careful if I don't want to go home with a broken bone. Surprisingly, I quickly find a rhythm and start to get more comfortable with the snow. I'm not cold. My body has warmed up, and my layers are working. However, every now and then the wind blows off the lake and smacks me in the face. I keep thinking about how good it will feel to finish..if I finish. Before I know it, I've hit the second mile marker.

The hills are getting steeper. I know what to expect though, since I ran this part of the trail last weekend (when it was 65 degrees), and I pace myself well. I'm feeling a little winded by the third mile marker but still doing okay. I feel a little stitch in my side, but I ignore it. I'm moving well, and my muscles feel okay. I glance around every now and then to enjoy the view. It really is beautiful. The lake glistens in the early morning daylight and laps loudly against the shore. All I can hear is the waves, my footsteps and my breathing. I'm feeling very alive and very spiritual. The snow has softly blanketed the trees and ground, and I feel lucky to be a part of such an exclusive group of folks traveling through this isolated area. I am surprised I don't long for warmer weather.
Mile Marker 4
It's getting tougher. The trail twists and turns along the lake and rises at steep angles. I'm getting tired. Crap. I have a long way to go. It's too early to feel tired. Try not to thing about it Hula. Just keep moving. As I skip over the third small creek of the morning the trail takes me along a clearing where I picture deer crossing. Sure enough, a few yards farther down the path I see fresh deer tracks. Ahead of me are two men. They appear to be in their late fifties or early sixties. They are like me, obviously not worried about time, just trying to make the miles. The first is wearing an orange sock cap. The second is wearing old green sweat clothes and and moves with a slightly lopsided gait. I wonder if he's had hip surgery. I don't know it yet, but I will travel with these men for most of the race. I see the second man slip and it scares me, but he doesn't go down. He keeps moving....and so do I. We hit the first aid station at mile marker five.

Mile marker 5
It takes me by surprise because it sits at the top of a hill. Me, orange sock cap man and green sweats stop for some sports drink and water. I feel my energy ebbing, so I take an energy gel out of my fanny pack and squeeze it down. Blech. It's nasty and kind of gags me, but I keep eating it. I need the sustenance. I have a long way to go. I overhear a conversation and realize the woman sitting in the nearby pickup truck has broken her ankle. Her running buddy is waiting with her for the ATV that will cart her out of the woods. She seems to be in incredible pain and is trying not to cry. I am reminded of how easy it is to get hurt today. Some of my ease with the slick trail disappears. I take off again, right after orange sock cap man. I decide to call him Phil in the conversations that play throughout my head as I slug through the woods. I nickname sweat suit man, Joe. We move on, slowly, more slowly than I anticipated. I expected to hit the seven mile marker in an hour and a half, but I realize I'm not going to make it. The trail is getting steeper and steeper and I'm getting tired. I slow down a little. So do Phil and Joe. My family is planning to be at the halfway point to give me some encouragement, and I know I won't be there by 7:30am when they are expecting me. I trudge on. I finally hit mile six and hit a wall in my head. I am very tired, and I know there is another particularly bad hill before I hit the aid station at mile seven. It is a breath taker, and I'm not sure how I will stand it. I am way more tired than I expected to be at this point, and I start to lose confidence. For the first time I start to doubt if I can do this. I hate it when that happens. I know my mental strength is important if I'm to finish all fourteen miles, and I don't need to let the doubts seep in. They will undermine my determination. Phil starts to pull away from me somewhat as I slow down even more. I cross a road and realize I'm at the foot of the big hill. I stop for a few seconds, pace around a little and try to get my mind right. "Just do it, *$#@ it," I tell myself and take off, but not as fast as I'd like. In fact, I have to begin walking just a few yards into the hill. It's a booger. It is kicking my butt, and I begin to feel emotional. I cry when I'm mad. Do not cry, Hula. Do NOT cry. This is no time for tears. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Remember, time doesn't matter. I shuffle along, sometimes walking, sometimes jogging. I cross a small creek and say a quick prayer that my feet don't get wet. Wet feet would be a disaster. I decide to start praying. I list every sick person, cancer patient, bereaved soul, senior citizen and coworker I can think of. I can't escape the fact that my left thigh is throbbing. I walk. I jog. The hills goes on. I hit the seven mile marker and realize I have misjudged the distance of the welcome station where my family will be waiting. I look at my watch. I am going to be even later than I thought. I know they will worry. God, this is harder than I thought it would be. I really am not sure I can do this. I debate whether I should quit when I hit the welcome station. Phil pulls farther ahead. Joe slows down, and I pass him. I hear his heavy breathing and realize he is struggling, too. Who's he talking to in his head, I wonder. My thigh throbs more. I realize I should have logged longer runs before I tried this. Oh well. Too late now. Just keep moving.

I have now been at this for almost two hours. I pass the eight mile marker and wonder when I will see the welcome station. I am walking now, not jogging. I'm so very tired...and frustrated. I keep putting one foot in front of the other, trying to scale the slippery slope ahead of me. My breathing is labored. This is not good. I know I have started to lose focus, but I can't seem to get it back. I am trudging along when I look toward the top of the hill and see a few people. I look away, not wanting to take my eyes off the trail, which is riddled with roots. I just want to get to the top so I can stop. I glance up again and realize my family is standing at the top, waiting for me. It's just them. They have stood in the freezing cold for an hour waiting on me. When I see them I start to get emotional again. I am so lucky to have people who love me enough to get up at the butt crack of dawn and stand in the snow drifts and bone chilling wind to cheer me on. They see me and start yelling. I start running. I am so glad to see them, Hubby, Teen Angel and Sissy, all bundled up in their winter garb. They seem awfully colorful though. Oh my God! What do they have on? As I get closer, I realize they are dressed in grass skirts and leis and are waving signs with a Hula Girl theme.

I can't believe it. What a beautiful sight! I am overcome with emotion. I realize how much they love me and support me in every wacky endeavor I do. I am so lucky. I want to cry. I almost cry, but I choke back the tears. I get closer and read their "Team Parrothead" signs and start to laugh. They are hilarious, penned the night before with supplies bought by Mama J., my first sponsor. Before I know it I'm at the top of the hill. I grab Teen Angel and kiss her head. Hubby and Sissy gets hugs and kisses, too. I am at the welcome station, and I relax. We laugh and chat for a minute. I learn that Teen Angel is the instigator of this welcome party. I also learn that I'm the only one with that kind of welcome party. They tell me other runners seemed jealous and asked if they could be on "Team Parrothead", too. My family has been cheering on dozens of grateful runners before I staggered into sight. Normally, well wishers would line the roadways. Not today. The weather scared them off. All of them...except my family. I get another round of kisses and head to the aid station for a pee stop and some sports drink. I am rejuvenated and decide to go on. I don't tell my family that I thought about quitting. I enter the trail again, motivated to move on. Their colorful love fest has raised my spirits, but the feeling won't last. Within a half mile, I will be in trouble.

To be continued.......

Friday, March 7, 2008

Ready, Set......

Whew! We escaped the first round of snow with nary a flurry. However, the second round has moved in, and there are plenty of flakes in the air. See.

The forecast says up to six inches, but I’m hoping for no more than three. This stuff isn’t supposed to end until early tomorrow morning, so I won’t have any idea what I’m dealing with until I wake up in the morning. I’ll be doing the dance of joy if this system slides north and we get little accumulation. One thing’s for sure, the wind is a killer right now, and it needs to die down significantly in the next twelve hours or it could be a real problem. I’m planning for the worst and hoping for the best.

Ear band-check
Sock cap-check
Vaseline to protect and warm face-check
Chap stick-check
Neck gaiter-check
Under Armor, top and bottoms-check
Dry weave shirt-check
Wind pants-check
Wind jacket-check
Hand warmers-check
Thin socks-check
Thick socks-check
Plastic bags to layer between socks-check
Extra socks-check
Trail shoes-check
Duct tape to insulate and waterproof trail shoes-check
Racing bib-pick up before 5:30am
Energy gels-check
Bananas-check ($1.39 a pound today!)
Smart Water-Hubby is picking up
Bag of dry, clean clothes-check
Fanny pack-check
Mental health evaluation-postponed

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Out In The Cold

This fourteen mile Trail Run coming up Saturday is a rain or shine event. It’s going to take place regardless of the weather conditions since there are people flying in from all over the county for it. Here’s the thing..our weather forecast for this weekend stinks…to high heaven. Stinks like a pig’s fanny. Like a two hole outhouse in August. Like a school cafeteria on kraut and wiener day. It‘s bad. It started going downhill at the beginning of the week and just keeps getting worse. I’ve worn out the refresh tab on my computer checking in with AccuWeather. And Ticketmaster-Jimmy Buffett tickets went on sale Monday. I could use a little Margaritaville because here’s what the weather service is saying about our weather:

Friday: Winter Storm Watch. Windy, cold and wet with 1 to 3 inches of snow. Wind chill of 34 degrees.
Friday night: 1 to 3 MORE inches of blowing snow. Low in the 20’s.
Saturday: Breezy and cold. Wind chill of 25 degrees.

You know, something like this…

Here’s what I’m hearing: Blah, blah, blah, sunny and warm….blah, blah, blah, UV index of 34…blah, blah, blah, heat advisory…blah, blah, blah, light southerly breezes.

You know, something like this….
Jiminy Cricket! It’s going to be ugly at 6am Saturday. I’ll have to layer up and peal off as I warm up…if I warm up. Thank the Lord for Under Armor. I went to Wal-Mart to buy a new sock cap since my old one is stretched out. The only ones I could find had NASCAR emblems on them. Nice. I finally dug a plain, black one out of the 70 cent clearance bin. There are two positives I see in this mess. Number one-I’ll have to move faster to stay warm (and to avoid all that snot slinging), so my time might be better than anticipated. Number two-I’m so slow some 300 runners should be ahead of me knocking the snow off the trails for me. Remind me again why I thought this would be fun.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Curiosity Factor

I once supervised a young reporter who was well known for asking Bill Clinton a most unusual question. A few years before she came to work for me, she stood up at a campaign forum and asked the then presidential candidate, “Boxers or briefs, sir?” It was the question heard round the world at the time, and she always seemed rather proud of it. I didn’t understand why since it struck me as ridiculous. You get the attention of the future president of the United States and the only thing you can think to ask him is what kind of underwear he wears? What a missed opportunity. However, I do understand the curiosity factor. I’d be less than honest if I didn’t admit that I have all kinds of trivial questions for well known people, stuff that doesn’t matter but I’d really like to know, mostly because I’m nosey. For instance:

1. Does the Pope ever get to wear pants?
2. What did Paris Hilton score on her ACT test?
3. Does Amy Winehouse’s head itch from all the drugs and hairspray?
4. Does Richard Simmons ever eat donuts?
5. Has Oprah ever been overdrawn on one of her checking accounts?
6. Did Mr. Rogers ever swear?
7. How much plastic surgery has Wayne Newton had?
8. How did John McCain hook up with such a hot looking wife?
9. How much does Donald Trump pay for that bad haircut?
10. Is Barrack Obama tired of smiling yet?
11. Is Al Gore secretly glad now that he didn’t get elected then?
12. Does President Bush ever want to just sit down and cry when he’s having a bad day, or week or month?
13. How much ice cream do Ben & Jerry eat?
14. Does Nicole Ritchie have stretch marks now?
15. Does JLo have stretch marks now?
16. Does Matthew McConaughey wear boxers or briefs?

Okay, your turn now. What useless, nosey information do you want to know?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Blessed Be the Tie That Binds

Dear Lord,
Forgive me, for I have sinned…again. It’s been umm..24 hours since my last confession. Can I get some kind of rewards card for stopping by so often? You know, like frequent flier miles? First of all, let me say I’m really sorry for that ugly word that slipped out of my mouth this morning when the soda machine was out of Diet Coke. It was early, I was sleepy and dadgum it, it was the second day in a row that I had to settle for Coke Zero. I know it shouldn’t matter, and I should be happy that I live in a place where I have fresh, clean water at my fingertips, but it did matter..and I wasn’t very nice about it. I’ll try to do better tomorrow.

I really liked what you did with the weather over the weekend. That sunny 73 degree trick you pulled was pretty snappy, and I was kind of hoping you could do it again this Saturday, if it’s not too much trouble. You see, I have this loooong race that starts at 6am and right now the forecast is calling for temperatures to be in the upper 20’s about that time. That’s a wee bit chilly for this summer baby, and I’d love it if you could kick things up a notch…or two…or three. If it’s really cold, I’ll be slinging snot all morning long, and let’s not get into that whole porta-potty thing. Anyway, whatever you could do about the weather would be greatly appreciated by my extremities. Couldn’t we swap with Argentina for the day? Okay. Okay. Just asking.

I’m pleading for a little wisdom today. This teenager thing is killin’ me. I don’t know if I have the strength for all the drama that comes with raising a fifteen year old girl and an overprotective husband. He can’t let go, and she’s shredding apron strings faster than I can tie them. She can’t even date yet, and it’s already crazy. Was I that emotional when I was that age? Whew. I didn’t think so. What? Maybe a little? Surely not? Well, remind me to double check with Mama on that one. I really don’t think I was, but you da’ man. If you say it’s so, it must be.

Speaking of Mama, help me to be patient with her in the coming week. She’ll be like a worm in hot ashes right before Super Cop’s wedding, and I get snappy with her when she gets all twitchy and doesn’t just relax and have a good time. Help us ALL to be patient with Papa T. and his bad attitude toward the cane. That little incident at Logan’s Steakhouse was downright childish, and I thought Sissy was going to whack him with that cane. Always help me to be mindful of how tough it is to lose your hearing, vision and independence. Well, I gotta’ go. I have to squeeze in a little more stretching tonight. Gotta’ keep those calves loosened up for Saturday. Clear your calendar for a long chat with me Saturday morning, say three hours or so. I have a feeling I’m going to be doing a lot of praying that day. You might want to prepare yourself. I may talk your ear off. Bless all the starving children, our soldiers in harm’s way and the old folks who are choosing between groceries, heat and medicine this week. And God Bless Coca-Cola.


Monday, March 3, 2008

Bottom of The Bag

The bottom of my purse never ceases to amaze me. I go digging around in there at least three times a day and take my life into my own hands each time. The mixture of stuff that accumulates in there is an amazing array of animal, mineral and protein. I’m not even sure how most of it gets in there. For an accessory that is designed to hold money and essential papers it sure does contain a lot of crap.

Here’s a small sample of what I found in there today: A half eaten roll of SweeTarts, nasal spray, stinky lotion from a Tennessee hotel, an empty tube of hand sanitizer that came from a goody bag at a charity event, a blue bead of unknown origin, five old sticky cough drops, an empty Dramamine bottle and twelve old receipts. Also, three kinds of sinus medication, a pair of gold earrings in a jewelry box and an appointment book I’ve never used. We won’t discuss the thirteen packets of Sweet ‘N Low or random orange flavored Tic Tacs rolling around in the bottom.

This is a good day. I’ve pulled all kinds of stuff out of there before, especially when Teen Angel was younger. I’ve reached in and found baby food, toys, teethers, dog collars, half eaten suckers, Cheerios and at least one stale Circus Peanut. Peer into a mother’s purse and you can likely guess exactly how old her children are. I can’t blame the Circus Peanut on her, though, I found that in there just a couple of months ago. I ate it, too. I’m sorry.

My mother in law used to carry the queen mother of all purses. She should have been on Let’s Make A Deal. No matter what you needed, she had it. You could be in the middle of a dessert and need an ice cube, and she’d have at least six in the bottom of her pocketbook. When they’ll hold five pounds or more of stuff they are no longer a purse. They are a pocketbook. Pocketbooks are usually black and carried by women over fifty years old. It usually contains at least one plastic rain bonnet and two tubes of Mocha Berry lipstick. Mama J. had to give up the big purse when she started using a walker. She now carries a much smaller purse that won’t topple off the seat of her walker when she’s moving. She misses the pocketbook. I can tell.

I think girls are groomed at a very early age to carry a purse. We become attached to them very quickly and get separation anxiety if we’re away from them too long. On the rare occasion I roll without a purse, I feel empty handed, like I’ve forgotten something. It goes with me everywhere and becomes a vessel for anything my family doesn’t want to hold. Then I go for months without cleaning it out. I’m not alone on this, though. At a wedding shower one time we played “Dump Your Purse”. You got a point for each of the items on the host’s list that you had in your purse. One woman had all 22 items, including the duct tape and screwdriver. It’s amazing what a woman’s purse contains. It’s amazing what my purse contain on any given day. It’s a shame it doesn’t contain any money.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Things That Make Me Smile

Watching a newborn baby sleeping peacefully on her daddy's chest in church.

The way that baby's grandpa couldn't take his eyes off his first grandchild throughout the entire service.

Papa T. singing "I Love To Tell The Story" even though he can't see the large print songbook. The fact that he knows all of the old hymns by heart.

Sunny 73 degree weather on the second day of March.

Riding a big old clunky bicycle on a warm sunny day and putting my feet on the handlebars while the wind whips through my hair.

They way my dieting Hubby went from surly to bubbly with just one cheeseburger.

Daffodils waking up in the backyard and stretching themselves in the sun.

Laughing and telling stories on the front porch with my family.

A bowl of homemade soup and a plate of apple crisp.

Especially sunny 73 degree weather on the second day of March.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Oh, What a Wonderful Day

What a difference a couple of days makes when it comes to weather in Kentucky. Earlier this week it was windy and cold. Today it was unseasonably warm, sunny and beautiful. I went from being a cranky old whiner to a bubbly energetic fool. A taste of spring does my soul wonders.

I've had a great day. I ran a large stretch of the Trail run course today. Let's just say I'll probably do a lot of praying during the race. I managed okay today, but the full course will obviously kick my butt plenty. These were some of the hardest miles I've ever run. It didn't help that I had to pee most of the time. I was afraid to slip behind a tree because every time I thought the coast was clear, up popped a runner or biker. Thank goodness for that concrete retaining wall sitting just off the trail. I left feeling pretty good because today's run made me familiar with the course and helped me get my mind right about the race.
I drove my little red coupe. That made me feel good, especially since I got to open the sun roof. Then I came home to find a wonderful surprise. Janjanmom had returned the dishes I used to fix her dinner this week and tucked inside was a daffodil covered thank you note AND a bag of Circus Peanuts AND SweeTarts. You know how I love a good fresh Circus Peanut or a SweeTart. Yippy Skippy! How lucky can a girl get? Thanks Janjanmom. You know me well.
To top off the day I was doodling around at looking for tour dates for Jimmy Buffett when I found the most fabulous, magnificent, stupendous things. How perfect are these?

Flip flops with Hula Girls! Pinch me, 'cause I think I'm dreaming. Two of my favorite things rolled into one delicious shoe. The only problem is deciding between the white and the pink.

Or the ones with margaritas.

Or palm trees.

What do you think? I think I like the hula girls best. Come on Spring! Mama needs new shoes. Ah, I love a perfect day.