Sunday, February 28, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
I am not a naturally athletic person. I want to be, but I’m not. Some people are, and I am incredibly annoyed at those people. I shouldn’t be, but I am, and that’s just the honest truth. To be strong and agile is a dream of mine. So much so, that it makes me insanely jealous of people who are. Like that seventy-something year old guy with the rock hard abs at a four miles race that blew past me like I was a turtle on Valium. I stared a hole into his back while he left me trotting in his dust.
Even when I was young, I was not athletic. I tried and failed miserably more than once. Seventh grade basketball? I sat on the bench 99% of the time to save me and the team any embarrassment and you can count on one finger the baskets I made that season. The only thing more embarrassing than my performance was that awful pixie haircut I had that year. Eighth grade track? Ho hum. I ran cross country and led the back of the pack. Of course, I could have been nervous about the fact that our big meet was on the grounds of a men’s minimum security prison. Oh, yes it was. If I’m lyin’ I’m dyin’. Softball? Horrible. I was somewhat decent at dodge ball, but only because I was so painfully thin I made a mighty narrow target. I wasn’t half bad at volleyball. My intramural team at college actually won our big tournament, and I still have the t-shirt to prove it. It’s my one athletic claim to fame. I basically stank at most sports, so I stuck to cheerleading and the pomp on squad. Keep in mind, back then cheerleading didn’t require all of the tumbling and pyramids it does now. If you could do a cartwheel, drop into the splits and yell loud enough to be heard across the gym, you could be a cheerleader. Naturally, I excelled at being loud. Today, I would not be skilled enough to make the cheerleading squad.
I shook my pom pons, smiled and made the most of it, but I never lost my desire to excel at something truly athletic. Even now, I dream of being a champion, even though I’m no more athletic than I was as a kid. I run several days a week, but I’m not good at it. I’m slow. My form is bad, and I struggle with mental focus. The one thing I am is consistent. I may be consistently bad, but I’m out there rain or shine, hot or cold, plugging away at my miles, trying to get a little better every month. I’m the little engine that thinks she can….if only she could quit leaning too far forward. Many days I feel like a sports dud, but the one time I feel really inspired is during the Olympics. The Olympics make me feel like anything is possible.
I don’t like to watch organized sports on television, but I love the Olympics. I will watch hour after hour of every sport. I love the stories behind the athletes. I like hearing about the folks who train for years to excel in a sport that may never bring them an endorsement or money or fame. They just want the chance to compete against the best in the world. I cry with the parents who wear holey clothing and pay on second mortgages just to pay for their kid’s skating lessons or drive their child to the hockey rink before dawn year after year. (Did you watch the Canadian skater perform Tuesday night after the death of her mother? Aye, yi, yi! The tears in my house on that one.) I live the dream with them for two weeks every four years, and when I hit the streets after a night of Olympic viewing I am inspired to run like a champion. During the past week, I’ve had some of the best runs I’ve had in a long time.
As I chug down the street, my imagination makes my feet light as feathers and takes me across the finish line a step ahead of the competition. When I run during the Olympics, I SOAR!
I have the determination and strength of Evan Lysavich. I am bold like Sean White. I have the bravery of a bob sledder, and I have the grace and style of Peggy Fleming. I am strong. I am smooth. I am a winner! I am an ATHLETE!
And if I trip on the sidewalk and fall? Well, I just blame it on Apolo Ohno, like all of the other whiny losers.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
And then I spent a gazillion hours sifting through the other photos. There are hundreds of dogs, and every photo reminds me of why I love dogs. There are big dogs, little dogs, fuzzy dogs, dogs with colored spots. Fat dogs, skinny dogs, even dogs with golden locks. There are dogs with toys, dogs with babies, dogs with sunglasses and dogs with big beautiful eyes. There are dog noses, dog toes and doggie ears. The puppies over there are so cute they'll make your teeth hurt, and you CANNOT look at them without smiling. So hop on over there, and put a smile on your face. And tell that little Yorkie sneaking up on those strawberries that I sent ya'.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Next to eating at Cracker Barrel after church on Sundays, Mama and Daddy’s favorite social activity is visiting the funeral home. My, how they love a good visitation followed by a stop at Dairy Queen. I’m not sure what it is about going to the funeral home and viewing a body that makes them crave a Dilly Bar, but apparently, something stirs their appetite for dairy while they’re at a wake.
They’re at the funeral home several times a month. They go to the funeral home the way some folks go to the Piggly Wiggly. It’s like a reunion of family and friends when they show up, and they sit and visit until the cows come home. I guess some of that comes with age or maybe it comes from living far out in the country where you have only one neighbor, but Mama and Daddy take their visitation duties seriously. If someone they know or the loved one of a friend or family member passes, you can count on them to show up at the funeral parlor at the appropriate time. And don’t be surprised if they bring food. That’s what we do in the south during any sort of tragedy you know, we send food. Nothing soothes grief like fried chicken, baked ham or a green bean casserole, and every church below the
I was in my old hometown last night for the visitation of a family member’s relative by marriage. It’s kind of sad, but a funeral or wedding is often the only time I make it to my old hometown. It’s a small town, so if you don’t know which funeral home to go to, you just show up at the first one and if nobody’s there, you drive across town to the other one. In fact, it’s such a small town, you could probably stop at the bank on the way into town and ask any clerk where the visitation for so and so is, and she could tell you off the top of her head or ask the teller next to her and get the right answer. I love that about home.
My plan was to visit with the family for a little while and scoot home to get things ready for a new work week. I arrived shortly at the start of visitation and sure enough, Mama and Daddy were already there, had spoken to the family and were starting to make their rounds of talking to other visitors. (Mama had dropped off the spiral ham earlier in the day.) Mama latched onto me, made sure I signed the visitor’s book, took the appropriate card and led me around to introduce me to folks. She was on a mission to make sure I did all the right things and understood the process, and frankly, acted as if I’d never been to the funeral home. About thirty minutes into it, it hit me that she was grooming me for future funeral home duties. Grooming me for her position. The position she expects me to take when she’s gone. As if I don’t already have enough dairy in my life.
We made the rounds, and much to my surprise, I ended up staying longer than I expected. I saw my old Sunday school teacher, an old grade school classmate and the parents of three people I went to school with as a kid. Before I could help myself, I was kicked back on a sofa in the front parlor, yakking it up with folks I hadn’t seen in a long time, and talking a blue streak. SuperCop came in, and I stayed a little longer to see him. (And guess which favorite nephew climbed up on the kitchen table yesterday and flung a pepper shaker through the air? Yee haw, somebody’s walkin’ now!) Anyhow, I stayed longer than I ever expected and shall I say it? I enjoyed seeing some friends, cousins and an aunt and two uncles I haven’t seen in a while and left feeling satisfied with the dose of “home” I got while I was there. Is this what Mama and Daddy get out of those visits? Does this account for why they go so often and stay so long? Am I getting old? Is that why for the first time in my life, I didn’t mind going to the funeral home? AM I getting old? Are Mama’s instincts right in that it’s time for me to start getting used to that kind of thing? I don’t know, but I can tell you, I had to fight like heck, the urge to pull into the DQ drive-thru for a vanilla milk shake on the way home.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010
Oh, and you, Mr. Plushenko, IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT THE QUAD! Your trash talk and unsportsmanlike behavior today was very distasteful. Your skating last night was sloppy, and you deserved the silver. Take it, be grateful and set an example for the skaters in that arena last night who would have been thrilled with a silver medal. If I were your mama, I'd wash your mouth out with Dial soap and send you to your room without any supper. I'd probably make you clean the toilets with a toothbrush too. That usually improves behavior in the Hula-gen household. Just ask Teen Angel.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
People seemed a little friendlier today, so I’m guessing I wasn’t the only one who needed a break in the weather. This winter has been especially tiresome. Frankly, I can’t imagine what it must be like to live on the east coast these days, with all that snow. We can’t begin to compare our weather to theirs, but things have certainly been more wet and cold and snowy than usual around here. It has us summer babies screaming for some warmth. If it weren’t for Girl Scout cookies, I don’t know how I’d get through February. These days, I grab onto any sign of spring I can and hang onto it for dear life.
There are signs that spring isn’t far away. The clerk in CVS last night was stocking Easter candy and shoving the forlorn leftover Valentines to a corner shelf. (How sad is a leftover Valentine?) The consignment store up the street put spring clothing in their display window and Great Gertie! They announced the dates for the Jimmy Buffet tour this week! I have three options this year:
Pray for me brothers and sisters. I need a little Margaritaville.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
I was reading The Pioneer Woman the other day, fascinated as usual by the goings on at the cattle ranch but curious about her relationship with Marlboro Man. She loves her cowboy but never mentions anything annoying he does and never talks about the stuff he does that ticks her off. Surely, there’s something he does that drives her crazy. It can’t be all roses and sunshine over there. I love Ree and her website, but I’m thinking the stress of ranching for a living, maintaining a famous website and home schooling four kids has got to be crazy. Really crazy. Somebody has to be yelling at somebody every now and then. Maybe not, but I know if the Hula-gen’s lived that life, we’d be less than perfect. There would be lots of “Get your butt down here right now and sweep this manure off the front porch like I asked you to do three hours ago,” and “Stop throwing calf nuts at your sister,” and “Who left the back door open and let all those flies in here?” Somebody would be leaving the toilet paper roll empty for the next person, someone would spill milk at the dinner table every night and we would all be cranky after a week of being cooped up together during a snow storm. Oh, and the swearing. There would probably be swearing. (It’s why Hubby and I can’t be on The Amazing Race.) Mayhem would be around every corner. That’s just family.
I don’t blame Ree for not sharing those moments with the world. Some things are personal. Those of us who blog have things we choose not to share with everyone. We self edit, and that’s okay. I do it, too. We do it to protect our privacy and our relationships. We do it to keep from embarrassing our families. Sometimes we do it because stuff is just too painful to share. We all have our warts, and we have the freedom to reveal as many or as few of them as we desire. The downside to that is that it often leaves our readers with the impression that our lives are jolly and great and that we’re better at handling life than they are. While it’s purely unintentional, it does strike me as a little dishonest. We are all human. We have failures. We have hurts. We make mistakes. We yell at our kids and regret it. We treat our spouses with disrespect and fail to apologize. People in our lives do bad things. We lose our temper and act like an a** in the line at the grocery store (or so I hear).
In the interest of honesty today, I’m sharing a few warts with you; nothing that should embarrass my family (much). Some are silly, and a few are big, but they are enough to show you that it’s more livin’ la Vida loca at my place than it is wine and roses. Tomorrow? We’re back to self editing then, because frankly, when it come to the Hula-gen’s, YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE WARTS!
-I lost my patience and my temper with Teen Angel on the phone the other day and used a pretty ugly tone of voice. I hate it when I do that.
-I forgot to tell Hubby Happy Birthday on my way out the door this morning. He would never forget to tell me that.
-The state of my bras is so bad I would be embarrassed if I were in a wreck and someone had to cut me out of my clothing.
-Running has left calluses on the top of the second toes on both my feet. They are ugly.
-I got so mad at Mama J. last night that I wanted to yank her hair. I’m still mad at her.
-Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever be content in my relationship with her.
-Papa T.’s care is wearing all of us out, especially Hubby and Mama J. It’s been a rough week with him, and I don’t know how long we can keep up with his needs.
-I live with the fear that we will find Papa T. or Mama J. dead in their bed one morning. I’ve had two nightmares that involved CPR.
-A crazy woman who got the wrong cell phone number and mistook us for a criminal kept calling us the other night. Near the end of a lengthy conversation with her I told her, “Woman, you have lost your mind.” You’d think a year and a half of Al-Anon would have kept that from coming out of my mouth.
-When Hubby slurps his soup I have an irresistible urge to scream.
-I think I’m on the verge of needing reading glasses. Crap, crap, crap.
-I’m fed up with the dysfunction in Hubby’s family. Seriously.
-I can’t seem to work the DVR correctly every time I record something, and it makes me feel like an idiot.
-My library books are overdue…AGAIN.
-Apparently, I am not responsible when there is leftover butter cream frosting in the fridge. It could account for the five pounds that showed up on my butt recently and refuse to go home.
-I have secretly and slowly eaten all of the pecan perks in that big box of chocolates Hubby got for Christmas, and I am delighted he hasn’t noticed.
Hmmm. That wasn’t so bad. Now then, if you’d care to share one or two of your own that’s okay, too. If not, I’ll just assume you’d rather not tell about the calf nut flinging going on at your place. In the meantime, I’ll be picking up the birthday card I forgot to buy yesterday.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007: The man with
a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time
approx. 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their
way to work. After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician
playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried
to meet his schedule.
4 minutes later:
The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat
and, without stopping, continued to walk.
A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his
watch and started to walk again.
A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid
stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the
child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was
repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced
their children to move on quickly.
The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a
short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace.
The man collected a total of $32.
He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded,
nor was there any recognition..
No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest
musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever
written, with a violin worth $35 million dollars. Two days before Joshua
Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.
This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station
was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about
perception, taste and people's priorities.
The questions raised:
*In a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we
*Do we stop to appreciate it?
*Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context or do we judge their talent based on the context?
It merits some thought, don't you think? Certainly something to think about next time we walk by a stranger in a public place.
Friday, February 12, 2010
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Once again, we awoke to another big fat snow. Well, maybe not big and fat to people in
Jiminy Cricket! We’ve had three really good snows in the last couple of weeks, and we may not be done. While I’m not superstitious, I have found that the Farmer’s Almanac is usually pretty good at predicting our weather. Hubby’s been telling me for weeks that the Almanac is forecasting snow for us throughout February and March. I let it go in one ear and out the other until Sunday night when I saw the local meteorologists predicting snow AGAIN and finally ran to the bathroom to dig out the Almanac and read it for myself (because I’m stubborn that way). There it was in black and white, just as plain as could be. Snow, snow, snow for the next several weeks. And to add insult to injury, that stinkin’ groundhog, whose name I refuse to say, saw his shadow. Now, why didn’t they just leave him in his hole and give a little hope to all of us summer babies? After all, ignorance is comfortable.
I’ve always thought he was cute, but not any more. I’m done with that groundhog. If six more weeks of winter weather is the best he can do, I’m all for takin’ him out. It’s over dude. We’re breakin' up, and I’m keepin’ the ring. Don’t come to
Monday, February 8, 2010
Romance is in the air at the Hula-gen house. Teen Angel has a new fella in her life, and boy, is she smitten. They’ve been on two dates in the last seven days, and you can practically hear the birds singing when they walk out the door. It’s J. this and J. that and text, text, TEXT. I can pick out his ring tone from across the house. I’m not complaining. He’s a very nice boy. And handsome, too. He is 13,000% better than the last boy she dragged home, and for that, her dad and I am extremely grateful. We like New Boy a lot. We’re just amused at the way they moon over each other. It sure brings back some memories; memories which make me feel a little old.
Teen Angel’s only been allowed to date for the past year, and most of that time was spent pining over a boy who treated her poorly. He stood her up more than once, didn’t keep his word and generally mistreated her. It got to the point that her dad and I finally told her he couldn’t call or pick her up for dates anymore. It took her a while to figure out that it was okay to expect some respect in a relationship, and she finally ended that romance last summer. She coasted through the first of this school year, determined to find a decent boy. She hung out with girlfriends and didn’t worry about a relationship, which thrilled me to no end. And then two weeks ago, she drifted home on a cloud of pheromones with the news about her first date with New Boy. We all anxiously waited for Friday night for the big first date. Which ended up being postponed because of snow covered roads. Oh, the gnashing of the teeth and wailing over the weather. We were relieved when Saturday came and the sun melted enough of the snow for the big date to take place.
He was polite when he arrived, shaking hands and saying all of the right things. Bless his heart; he even tried to take his shoes off at the front door until Teen Angel explained that we have hardwood so we don’t have to worry about that kind of thing. He opened the door for her as they left, and we watched them pull out of the driveway, trying not to let them see us peering from the dining room window. And that’s when the memories came flooding back.
Being a teenager and waiting for that special boy to pick you up. Praying to God that your parents didn’t say or do anything embarrassing while he was there, and trying to get out the door fast enough to prevent dad’s Great Inquisition or Mom’s nosey questions. Hoping that he doesn’t notice your grade school photo on the wall. Feeling like you’re on top of the world while you’re sitting in the car with that boy, and thinking that time has never passed so quickly. There’s shyness, laughs and that first kiss that stops your heart.
For a long time after they left that night, Hubby and I talked about those teenage dates. He gave me the boy’s perspective, which I had never thought about. Nerves, worrying about whether that special girl would actually say yes to his invitation to dinner and a movie, tentatively knocking on her front door, enduring her dad’s stare and trying to get out of the house with that girl as fast as possible without being rude. One time, he picked up a girl for a date, and her dad never said a word to him the whole time Hubby was in their house. He never responded to anything Hubby said and to this day has never spoken to him. The man had four daughters. It’s easy to understand why he was protective.
This past Saturday night was Homecoming, so we went through the whole special dress, matching shoes, pictures in the living room experience that I remember doing so many years ago. Her red dress was lovely. His matching tie was elegant, and the warmth radiating from their big smiles almost required sunscreen. They were cute, cute, cute, and I nearly laughed out loud when I remembered that all of us girls wore knickers to Homecoming my senior year of high school.
I remember those times well, and it’s fun watching Teen Angel go through them, too. It will be a long time before she realizes that this was probably just one of several big dates in her life, that there will be other fancy dresses and other kisses. I’m just glad she seems to have figured out now that stepping out that door with a boy who is nice and caring and respectful is the most important part of the evening.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
A snow covered train rolling through the countryside seems so quaint. So old fashioned. So...so...Petticoat Junction. It makes me want to grab onto the caboose and ride the rails across the Midwest, making friends with hobos and vagabonds and eating over campfires.
And then I remember that I like being warm, that I enjoy my Sealy PosturePedic and that I hate pork and beans. And I get over myself, get back in the car and look for another picture to take.
Friday, February 5, 2010
Thursday, February 4, 2010
I’m hoping someone in the medical profession or over the age of sixty can answer a question for me. Why do elderly folks talk so much about their bowels? Often. In public. At length. With people they don’t even know. I hear it all of the time when I’m around seasoned citizens, especially in the doctor’s office. I’m not the most modest person in the world. Heck, we haven’t shut a bathroom door at our house since 1994, but there are some things I don’t talk about much, and irregularity is one of them. I file that in the same category as those conversations that start with, “Does this look inflamed to you?” While I have extolled the virtues of a daily dose of ground flax seed to close friends, I generally refrain from talking about the habits of my colon. And trust me, as someone whose nerves are connected directly to her colon, I could talk for days about it IF I wanted to. Which I don’t. Especially not with strangers.
My mother talks about it all of the time. Granted, she’s a retired nurse. In fact, the times she babysat Teen Angel as a baby, I came home to notes where she had charted Teen Angel’s eating and bathroom activities for the day. You can take the nurse out of the hospital, but you can’t take the hospital out of the nurse. She’s been charting other people’s “output” for years, so I guess it’s only natural she would talk about her own, but Mama J. does it, too. There isn’t a day that goes by that Mama J. doesn’t mention it. It’s an obsession with that woman, and I’ll thank the three people from my church who read this website not to rat me out to her that I posted this on the World Wide Web because I’m about to go where I shouldn’t but simply can’t stop myself.
This week, her sluggish system has been hangin’ in like Gunga Din, and she resorted to a bottle of some kind of cleansing something or other. The dosage was supposed to be one-fourth of a bottle, and sticking to the Hula-gen theory that if one pill is good, three will be better, she drank the whole bottle. To put it delicately, this resulted in something I have dubbed Sh*tty Sh*tty Bang Bang. She has not left the house in twenty-four hours. In fact, she cancelled her manicure appointment, which she NEVER does. She could have one foot in the grave, and she would drag herself to the beauty shop for nails and a wash and set. Not today, brothers and sisters. She stayed home. She is colonoscopy ready, and she has shared with us each and every detail of this experience. I’m sharing some of it with you because I want someone to tell me why there is a compulsion to share this information about yourself when you reach the golden years. I am scratching my head over this. And honestly, I’m giggling a little. Well, a lot. I’m giggling a lot, because she ignored Hubby’s warnings to go easy on that cleanser. And I’m making a pact with Hubby that when we get old and I start talking ad nauseam about my bowels, (Get it? Ad nauseam?) he’s allowed to whack me over the head with a bottle of Miralax.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Sometimes we forget what we have in our own backyard. That is often the case with me. In this end of the state we have two large adjacent lakes that lend themselves to all kinds of fishing, boating and camping. They are wonderful tourist attractions that help many local folks earn a living. In fact, tourism is big business around here. We are lucky to have the lakes and the national forest surrounding them, and I often kick myself for not taking advantage of them more often. Some of the best camping and fishing in this country is literally minutes from my house.
The lakes are not without controversy. TVA flooded a great deal of private land decades ago to create the lakes area, and many people lost their homes in the process. Scattered throughout the area are small cemeteries that mark the resting place of families who once called that land their own. Many a jug of moonshine was brewed in those hills, too. Its colorful history makes it a unique place, and much of it sits in its natural state, dotted only by the occasional restaurant or marina.
I decided to visit the lakes Sunday since I was in search of some winter nature shots before the snow rapidly melted away, and I had exhausted all possibilities in the wildlife refuge near my house. I was not disappointed. The thing that struck me all afternoon as I stomped around shores and trails, trying not to fall into the cold lake water, was how blue everything was. Between the snow, the sun and the water, everything had a beautiful blue tint that screamed winter. It was a good reminder of how lovely this part of the country is, and since it is such a well kept secret, I thought I’d share it with you today, so you can see for yourself. I think I’m in love with the color blue.
Psst. I even managed a couple of sailboat shots for Oreneta.