November 26, 2011

And We're Surprised...Why?

We've all seen news about various Occupy movements around the country and the term class warfare has been tossed around by the likes of Speaker of the House John Boehner and others. Now generational warfare is the latest, as the Super Committee admits failure to come to consensus. Anyone who's surprised by recent events hasn't been paying attention.

For years Americans have arrogantly believed it was their right as citizens of the U.S.A. to build wealth and flaunt it. In fact, they felt they were entitled to it. Can't actually build wealth? Hey, it's OK. Just borrow money and pretend you have it to spend. It's what the U.S. government does. Instead of learning values from their parents, many American citizens learned them from a government that has continued to pretend it's still a superpower in the world. They learned from celebrities who ask for more and more for doing relatively little. They bought into the false belief that everyone who lived on U.S. soil was, for some reason, inherently entitled to wealth and "the good things" in life.

Is it really surprising then that when everyone came crashing down to earth, when reality finally set in, that people would be angry? The economy has failed. The losers are those who bought into the pretense of living beyond their means, those who simply wanted to have a piece of the American Dream of owning a home, and those who were unlucky enough to work for companies or government agencies that felt the need to begin massive layoffs to balance budgets or build reserves. In the meantime, people who have remained wealthy, those who actually had plenty to lose and still float in the deep end of the luxury pool, are living their lives as they always have; however, they're now perceived as the new super villains, along with government and corporations.

It was inevitable. Life as many people knew it was going to change, and not for the better. If people didn't see this coming, they were lying to themselves. I'm not an economist or a great world thinker, but I had conversations with people years ago about how it was all going to come crumbling down one day. It was inevitable.

I'm not going to delve into who's right, who's wrong, who needs to see the light, who needs to back off. I'm just surprised by the number of intelligent people who watched the same news I did, saw the same things happening in our country, and didn't see that one day we would be a country at odds with ourselves. Republicans vs. Democrats. Rich vs. poor. Insured vs. non-insured. Those with homes vs. the homeless. Well fed vs. the hungry. Baby boomers vs. Generation Z. The list goes on. The only thing I can't look into the future and see is how it's all going to end. I wish I could.

We need to look at ourselves, that includes me, and ask what our part in all of this is. We need to look at ways we can concretely create change. It isn't by pitching tents and sitting on sidewalks, waiting for a rogue cop to pepper spray us. It's by closing our wallets to big corporations and supporting our local small businesses. Transferring our money from big banks to local credit unions. Researching candidates and items up for vote before we cast our ballot. And actually following through and casting that ballot. Perhaps we need to remember the values our grandparents and great-grandparents had; those that focused on family, friends, and earning an honest living - not material possessions. Maybe we need to get back to the basics.

November 7, 2011

My Sweet Addiction

Dear Hershey's

Someone gave me a bag of your Pumpkin Spice Kisses for Halloween. Now I'm addicted. I've searched my town and a neighboring city; however, it appears all the Pumpkin Spice Kisses have been replaced with Christmas Peppermint and the like. What's up with that? I mean it's not even Thanksgiving yet. Hello... Pumpkin pie... Pumpkin Spice Kisses... It adds up to they should still be for sale everywhere.  

Thanks to you I'm now stealing Pumpkin Spice Kisses from my coworkers' candy dishes and begging for their bags of leftovers. Yes, I've been reduced to this. Last week, someone baked cookies and put these little bits of deliciousness in the middle of each. When everyone was distracted, I pulled them all off and stuffed them in my purse. They're a little fuzzy, but I can't be picky at this point.

Fair warning, if I have to go to Pumpkin Spice Kisses rehab, I'm going to send you the bill, as it truly is all your fault. If, however, you would like to donate several bags of Pumpkin Spice Kisses to me, I would be ever so grateful and we'll call it even.



Where are the Pumpkin Spice Kisses?
All I see are Christmas Kisses.

Is there a seasonal candy or food you long for that has already been removed? Or are you thrilled to see Christmas type candy and food emerging?

September 29, 2011

But So-and-So Said...

People often make statements about things without having all the facts. They go by hearsay, making assumptions based on what they've heard through the grapevine, from their neighbor, an email from a friend, a news outlet, or a magazine ad. Some wonder enough to do a little research and find the facts, but many choose to simply believe what they were told by mass media or an individual with an opinion or a little gossip.

As one who doesn't take things at face value and always likes to go to the source for information, it's hard for me to understand people who base their entire belief system about a subject on what they've been told by a third party. How can you effectively debate or defend your support of a political party or bill up for vote in Congress if you've never actually checked out the background of the candidates or read the bill itself? Is it possible to truly know a person if all you've heard about them is what your coworkers have told you? Shouldn't you talk to the person directly and find out if they really did rob that bank back in 1992? And then there's the biggie. Religion. Faith and belief in a higher power is something that is innate in many of us. But that doesn't mean we have to blindly accept the religion of our parents. Doesn't something as important as your core belief system deserve some time and research? It doesn't mean you have to deny or abandon your Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, atheist, Wiccan, whatever views. It just means you're a more educated person who is confident and knowledgeable about not only your religion but others as well.

People slam us with information every day. Unless you stay home with the phone, television, computer, and radio turned off, there is no way to avoid someone trying to influence you about something. Some are subtle and wind it into a conversation. Others are blatant and present you with a laundry list of "facts" that you need to know. Sometimes we realize right away that what they're telling us isn't true or that they aren't telling us a truth we don't already know. Other times we have do a little digging at the source to get the truth.

When you defend your point about a subject, when you make a judgement about a person, do you base it on what you've heard from others or do you try to find the truth for yourself? Are you open to knowing the truth if it differs from what you've heard or what you've always believed it to be?

September 25, 2011

Beware of Saws

Family. We don't choose them, and those we're related to typically don't have a say in our choice of spouse when we say "I do." We end up with this interesting blend of personalities, walking thinly drawn lines to keep the peace or finding soulmates in our in-laws. When it works, it makes one feel secure and loved. When it doesn't, it can be devastating.

Family connections are important. We need each other, in good times and bad. The history we have with one another is unique and helps make us who we are. There are very few justifiable reasons why we should turn our backs on family. Unless someone does something unforgivably egregious, you should always find a way to make amends, and never let an outside person be the catalyst for the breakdown of communication with someone you love.

I recently witnessed a wife actively seek to separate her husband from his brother. There is nothing that can justify her actions. The brother has done nothing to her or her husband. Yet this woman spent months trying to not only break up the brothers, but also break up the relationship the brother has with his girlfriend. To drive the final nail in the familial coffin, she had her husband tell his mom that they would no longer spend holidays with her because of the brother. The woman is pure evil.

My hope is that this woman's husband will eventually realize what is really happening and speak to his brother. They need to come together and he needs to know the truth of what his wife has done. The brothers need to become family again.

None of us know how much time we have left with those we love. We don't know how much time we have to make up with those we're estranged from. If there is someone in your past you've cut out, I encourage you to examine what happened and ask yourself if the offense was really worth severing ties. If not, be brave and take the first step to mending your relationship. Don't let too much time go by. Family is important. We need each other.

September 20, 2011

Waiting for the Next Stop

No, my blog is not forgotten. The carousel of life has me spinning at the moment. Things are busy, but very good. Will I be able to grab the ring as the carousel circles me round and round? Stay tuned to find out. I have a new blog post coming soon.

August 4, 2011

Curiouser and Curiouser

'We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.'
My life of late seems as if I've stepped through the looking glass. Things feel slightly off, not exactly as they should, and even a little warped. People are acting out of character, someone near and dear is no longer here, and something I thought would be routine, wasn't. I wake every day wondering what new weirdness is going to happen. What will be vaguely not right?

I know everyone has these kinds of days, these moments in their life when the world seems to be tilted just a little. Usually we ride it out and wait for the universe to course-correct. Most of the time it doesn't take long. But based on what I know is in my immediate future, I'm afraid I may need to buckle up for a few more weeks in Wonderland. With jury duty coming up, I'm crossing my fingers that The Hatter hasn't gone mad or a trial for the Queen of Hearts isn't on the docket. If it is, I honestly won't be surprised.

July 4, 2011

I See The Signs!

I think signs are awesome. They're a chance to get a message across while being a little creative and humorous or they try to be serious and come across as a little goofy. One of my "just for fun" goals this year is to try to take pictures of all the signs that give me a giggle. To kick off my Sign-O-Thon, here are a few I took this week, along with two at the end that I took a couple of years ago. Enjoy!

So many things come to mind, but I'll be nice. 

I always think this one is kind of sad. But yay that they get to play outside! 

I can't afford to send everyone who needs training to this place.

Um, there is a perfectly good road that continues past this sign to my destination. Why do I have to get out and walk for 1/2 a mile? And how do I get my car to the stop sign at the end of that 1/2 mile?

Would you attend a church that had Little Hope? Me neither.

Yes, this is where I get many of my friends, but I love them all. 

Ewwwwwww! I refuse to shop at a convenience store that wants to know if people "Got Worms."

Who knew The Way To Grace was in Pocatello, ID?

"Don’t Mess With Texas" has nothing on Washington's anti-litter campaign. At least we Texans don't threaten overt violence.

Excellent. They've now given up on trying to stop people from drinking and driving. Now it's up to the rest of us to just "watch out." 

July 1, 2011

Just a quickie to let you know I'm still alive and kickin'! I'm busy working on my next post, so expect it soon. In the meantime, take a look around and see if you can spot the redecorating I did on my blog.

May 30, 2011

Dork of the Day (or The Ding That Wasn't)

When things happen to my condo or car, I like to take care of the problem as soon as possible so I don't have to worry about it. That's why when a rock hit my windshield, putting a nice sized ding in it, I immediately called a company to fill it in before it could become a full-fledged crack. I had used this company before and they'd always done an outstanding job. This day they provided the same outstanding service.

My appointment window was between 9:00 and 12:00; they were coming to me, so I wasn't going to lose any work time, just a lot of money to fix the rock ding. Around 10:00ish, a nice lady arrived to repair my windshield. But when I went outside to meet her, she said she couldn't see a current chip, just one that had already been repaired. Huh? I could clearly see it. Was she blind? Did they send me a newbie who hadn't been trained properly? No worries. I'd help her out. I opened my car door, slid behind the wheel, and pointed to the big rock ding.

"Ah!" she said as I joined her outside, "I see the problem."

And with that, she used her thumb to scrape away my "ding." Turns out my ding was...a bug. After apologizing to her profusely and being reassured that I wouldn't be charged for the bug diagnosis, she assured me I wasn't the first to call about a "rock/bug ding." That didn't keep me from feeling like the Dork of the Day, but it was nice to know I wasn't the only one.

We all have our dorky moments. They keep life interesting and sometimes provide a few laughs. So here's to me and my Dork of the Day moment!

May 18, 2011

The Daisy Trail

It feels like forever since I've posted something new. These days, I do several things a bit slower than I used to, thanks to my unexpected side trip to the hospital a month ago. It's temporary. I'm working my way back to normal bit-by-bit. But nothing prepared me for the horror I would feel while doing something that used to be a breeze: walking a mile.

My doctor told me I should take it easy and never go fast enough to begin breathing heavily. No problem. I've walked that trail a hundred times. For a few days I went out, did my walk, and was proud of myself for making it up the little hill and back down again. OK, so it's really just a slight incline. It took longer than it used to and I had to keep slowing down because I became winded easily (thanks a lot, blood clots), but I did it. Then I realized just how slow I was going. Turtle slow. Worse than old lady slow. Toddler just learning to walk slow.

There I was, enjoying the beautiful day, saying hello to those going the opposite direction, when it happened. I was passed by two small women who were at least in their 70s. They had their cute little outfits on, complete with matching caps, and there I was in my baggy jeans (because I've lost weight) and giant straw hat (hey, it was sunny and I'm very fair). I had just been smoked by Miss Daisy and her friend on the walking trail. Fine. It was a sad moment. I stopped to mourn and catch my breath.

So on I trudged, trying to convince myself that they were superhuman and I'm really not that slow. The reality is that I am right now. That's OK. If I keep doing what I'm supposed to, someday I'll be back to normal or better, and when I am, I'll leave them in the dust as I pass and be proud of how much I've progressed.

April 19, 2011

What Does It Feel Like?

I consulted my trusted blog advisor, Steven, about what I should write for this post, and at first said I didn't want to divulge too much about what's been happening in my personal life lately. I've since changed my mind. I think what's happened to me this past week is important, and I need to write about it, just in case it might save the life of someone else.

Last Monday was a typical day; however, I noticed a little soreness in the upper part of my back. As the day went on, the pain grew worse and I decided I had pulled something. The pain spread across my back and into my chest, and I noticed it was getting harder to breathe. By the end of the day, I couldn't take in deep breaths because of the pain. 

I was supposed to Skype-cook with Steven that night, but knew he had a cluster headache (trust me, they're terrible), so I at least had a reprieve until he felt better later. We talked and decided ibuprofen and an hour of rest might help us both. An hour later I felt slightly better, and we cooked our meals together via Skype (same recipe at the same time with our laptops in the kitchen). Total prep, cook, and talk time was somewhere around 2 hours, maybe a little less. Once dinner was ready, we logged off and ate on our own. I was beginning to hurt again, but only had one ibuprofen left, so I decided a heating pad might help. It did. To the point that I fell asleep in a comfy chair with my laptop, phone, and TV remote all in my lap. I woke and decided I should have gone to bed a couple of hours ago. 

It never occurred to me to take my heating pad with me, so I simply went through my usual routine and went to bed. Hours later I woke, unable to breathe. My back and chest hurt. My first thought, of course, was that this was something a hot bubble bath could cure. No. It did help relax me and ease the pain, but it was no magical cure. I remembered the heating pad, put it on the bed and turned it up to high. Ah yes, that was what I needed. By morning I would be a different person. Little did I know...

When morning came, the pain and painful breathing were still there, so I called my doctor to see if I could get an appointment to get a muscle relaxer. I got the doctor's nurse, and we went through a series of questions and I could tell where this was headed -- heart-related problems. Um, no. I did my best to convince him it was muscle, and he did his best to convince me to go to the emergency room. I have a phobia of hospitals, so, um, no. I was determined to talk him into the muscle theory. He was having none of it.

Go. To. The. Emergency. Room. 

I finally agreed, then called my mom, who came and got me. Right now, moms are the best thing ever invented! I called Steven and let him know what was happening, and to assure him nothing was going to stop me from boarding a plane on Saturday to see him. I also called work to let them know I'd be late because my doctor's nurse was insisting I waste time and money going to the emergency room.

My mom and I drove to the Valley Hospital and Medical Center in Spokane Valley, and once I told them the list of symptoms the phone nurse insisted I write down and give them, I was immediately escorted to an area to have an EKG, which was normal. Yay, because I told everyone within ear shot, several times, no matter what they found, they must fix it in time for me to board a plane to Texas on Saturday.

Next up? Drawing blood. Ha! No easy task where I'm concerned. My veins are difficult to find, so they have to take it out of my hand. What's worse than having blood drawn from your hand? Having an IV inserted into your wrist, again because they can't find veins. I was then whisked away to x-ray and brought back with results shortly to follow. No problems with the x-rays; however, the blood tests showed signs of elevated....something that means I could have blood clots or an extreme inflammation somewhere. Next step? Whisked off to have a CT scan.

I've never had a CT scan and apparently having an IV in my wrist required the consultation of three people before they could proceed. I also made sure I informed them that they were to find nothing because I had to be on a plane to Texas on Saturday (this was my theme for the day). They finally decided the dye or whatever could be injected into my wrist and did so. Once the scan was over, I was again whisked back to my little room where my mom was dutifully waiting. A short time later, the nicest doctor in the world (seriously) came in and asked if I wanted good or bad news first. Hit me with the bad. "You're not getting on a plane to Texas on Saturday." That was all I heard and I began sobbing.

Again, moms are the best invention ever because she heard everything he said. Once he left and she calmed me down, I had to ask her what was wrong with me. I had blood clots in my lungs, better known as a pulmonary embolisms. I could have had a stroke or died on the plane.

They did an ultrasound to find the root of the clot, which turned out to be behind my left knee, then checked me into the hospital for five days of absolutely no rest and a massive amount of confusing information.

All this is to say that we all feel aches and pains, but some need to be taken seriously. If mine hadn't happened to affect my breathing, I probably would have popped ibuprofen for days thinking it would go away, then I would have boarded that plane on Saturday.

Don't ignore aches and pains that stick around for a while or have no real cause. Call your doctor immediately. Believe me, it's better to have some tests run and find out all is well than to die because you thought your pains were normal. I'm a healthy person. This was proven by the million other tests they ran on me. So it can happen to anyone. They believe my pulmonary embolisms were caused by a medication I was taking, but it could be genetic. We're hoping I'll only have to take blood thinners and go in for routine tests for six months. Fingers crossed.

To anyone who made it this far in this long post, I know you've heard it all somewhere before. If I can help save someone else by posting my story, then this whole blog thing has been worth it.

April 3, 2011

Is This Amount OK? Um, No.

OK, I have to share another pet peeve of mine. When I use my debit or credit card to checkout at any store, the machine always asks this question, to which I'm unable give an honest answer, "Is this amount OK?" Hmm. To be honest, no, it's not OK. I'd like to pay you 50% less, but you're not giving me that option, so I guess I'll have to say yes. The more appropriate question would be, "Is this amount correct?" or "Is this amount accurate?" 

Maybe I'm just being picky, but honestly, every single time I want to answer, "No, I want to pay less." I've mentioned this to several cashiers and they've laughed and agreed it is a dumb question. 

So there's my rant for the day. Will someone kindly tell the makers of the credit/debit card machines to please restate the question? Sigh. Probably not. I suppose I'm just stuck with this pet peeve, unless I want to go back to using cash.

March 20, 2011

And I've Got... Nothing

And what did my wondering eyes see this week?
So a few people have asked me to update my blog and post something new and brilliant. Well, believe it or not, I've got nothing to say. Hey! No laughter from my friends and family! Stop it! Really, I just can't think of anything worthwhile.

Now things that are trivial and inconsequential, that I can do. But worthwhile, not this week. This week consisted of...

Chasing down my garbage can as the wind blew it away while watching a TV show...during the exact same scene. Three times. After rewinding three times, I finally heard the single line I'd been waiting to hear. By then it was anticlimactic.

I'm in my 40s and discovered it's still possible to get a pimple. Really? How is that fair?

Cut myself in the kitchen with my cool new knife, cut myself in the kitchen with my cool new knife, and then cut myself in the kitchen with my cool new knife.

Worked out, then immediately went grocery shopping while looking and smelling like a vagrant.

Passed up buying a piece of carrot cake because I was assured there would be homemade carrot cake at an office potluck. There wasn't.

Was quizzed by my doctor about the ins and outs of long distance Skyping with my boyfriend, how exactly we cook "together", when we met, what our moms thought when we Skyped with them, and more. An hour and a half later, I finally left to go to work. Oh yeah, and we also talked about my health.

Last night I accidentally made a chef salad big enough for eight, and I was alone. I ate enough for two.

This morning I woke up and realized I had all the ingredients to make a breakfast casserole I was craving. Woohoo, because I never have all the ingredients!

But other than that, I've got...nothing.

March 7, 2011

A Few Views of My World

A few people have asked me to post some of my photos. Soon I'll be taking new ones, but in the meantime, here are a few of my current faves. 

The Twilight Zone opening? The Time Tunnel? Am I a sci-fi geek? No, no, and yes. It's actually a purple Slinky on a dark couch. I took it one day after being snowed in at home for several days (final snow count; 7 feet-ish). 

Most people enjoy the view from the top of lighthouses. I'm afraid of heights and prefer the view from the safety of the ground. During a trip to the Oregon coast, my friends trekked up the stairs to take in the vista. As I watched them huff and puff their way up, I thought the view from my perspective was really cool too.

Drip, drip, drop. As the above mentioned 7 foot snowfall began to melt, I saw this icicle and wondered how long it would take to get a photo of a single drop. Surprisingly, not that long. I think it took me 4 or 5 shots in just a few minutes.

This reminds me of a postcard. @Steven and I went for a drive and stopped at a park along a river in Spokane, WA. The day was perfect. The snow was crisp, the sky was a perfect blue, and there weren't many people out (possibly because it was 9 degrees).

This photo always reminds me of my mom. We drove up to Green Bluff in the Washington area, and stopped so we could take photos of this sunflower. I framed it so I could get the blue sky and red barn as well. My wonderful mom was so focused on the flower, she never saw the big red barn. She did manage to accidentally get it in her shots. And she says I'm unobservant...

When you enter Yellowstone National Park it clearly states you must stay at least 25 yards aways from the elk. They are wild. However, once you're in the park and people are rushing to pull over and take photos, it's easy to get caught up in the moment. I was so excited, I ran up to him and began snapping photos. I was thrilled no one else was around me. Yay! It was only after he bellowed...loudly, that I looked around and saw that everyone with half a brain was standing behind their cars, including my mom. I stupidly took another shot or two anyway, then joined them.

The Sapphire Pools at Yellowstone National Park are incredible. If you ever want to see how many colors are possible in nature, visit Yellowstone. It's simply gorgeous. I stood and stared at this bubbling pool for a while before remembering I might be able to capture it in a photo. This is close, but I still don't think it shows off just how beautiful it really is.

If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you know this is Haystack Rock on the Oregon coast. If you've never been to the Oregon coast, I highly recommend making the trip and doing the drive. It's beautiful. Some friends and I spent several days touring the coast and other parts of Oregon. This shot was near the end of the day and it was so peaceful. I'd love to go back some day soon.

This is the view from the top of Steptoe Butte in WA. The fact that I was able to snap this photo is nothing short of a miracle. I'm terrified of heights and the drive up to the top of the butte is harrowing. Imagine a tiny road that is supposedly two lanes. (Uh huh. Two lanes if one is a car and the other is a bicycle!) It winds around the butte in a giant corkscrew. So if you're in the passenger seat, you're on the edge of a cliff the entire way up. Frightening! But somehow I managed to survive and left only shallow finger dents in the car seat. I'm really glad I did it, but I'm not sure I could do it again. Unless someone offered to pay me. A lot.

I was standing on a bridge, looking down into crystal clear water and realized the bridge was perfectly reflected, but with depth and texture. I liked the effect the water created.

During a trip to Atlanta, some friends and I stopped by the church where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached. It is now a memorial to Dr. King, and while you view photos and take in the atmosphere, they play his most famous speech over loud speakers. As everyone silently sat in the pews and took it all in, I snapped this photo. I was moved by the history of it. The wood is worn where hands have gripped it over the years, hands that belonged to people who had the privilege of hearing Dr. King firsthand, hands of people who perhaps marched for equal rights and freedom, hands of people who maybe changed the history of our country. This photo is one of my favorites. Every time I see it I'm reminded of that day and that moment.

February 18, 2011

Catching Fireflies

I'm a big fan of the television show, Fringe. Read no further if you're a fan and haven't watched the January 21 episode.

One of the themes of the show that evening was how changing even one small event could set off a chain reaction that would affect people you've never met. Something so simple as catching a firefly when you weren't supposed to could cause someone's death in another location. How? Because that firefly never flew down the street and wasn't there for a little girl to catch, causing her to continue looking for fireflies long after she should have been home. Her father became worried, and went in search of her in his car, eventually hitting and killing an innocent pedestrian. And all this happened because you caught a firefly you weren't supposed to catch.

Every day we make decisions that lead us in one direction or another, and often we wonder... What if I had taken the other path? What if I turned left instead of right? What if? What if?

Making one choice changes not only our lives, but the lives of so many others, people we don't even know and likely will never meet. It's mind-boggling.

Last week I caught a firefly. I made what I thought was a simple blog post on a whim, and thought it would be like any other; a few of my friends and my mom would read it, maybe a couple of strangers from my Twitterverse. But within eighteen hours of posting it, something happened. It was forwarded to friends of friends and parties were formed. People decided to change what they were doing on February 13 and possibly February 14, based on something I did without much thought. It amazed me. I don't know if I was supposed to catch that firefly last week, but it seems so to me. I haven't heard of any bad that has come from it, but I have thought about what if I hadn't posted it. How many people wouldn't have gotten together with friends that weekend and laughed?

Sometimes we're supposed to catch the firefly and sometimes not. There is no way to know which is the right decision, we simply have to follow our instincts and know that what we're doing is right. Today all I know is that I'm glad I caught that firefly last week. I'm glad I posted a crazy little nothing about St. Upid on whim.

February 10, 2011

St. Upid's Day

As Valentine's Day approaches, my mind always turns to thoughts of love. Of course. It's what we're supposed to do. Right? Focus on the one person we love... give them things to prove our love... make sure we tell them we're in love... blah, blah, blah. If we're single and really lucky, maybe we get a card and cookie from our mom or best friend.

Most of my V-Days have been sadly lacking in the romance department. I'm either single or I have an uncanny ability to annoy the man in my life just before the big day hits. Several years ago I was happily single, and being in the same Valentineless condition, a friend came up with St. Upid's Day. I thought it was quite brilliant of him at the time, and the thought of St. Upid's Day (and my friend Rob) still makes me smile.

Read this title slowly...

St. Upid's Day

(yep, stupid)

It's the anti-Valentine's Day day celebrated on February 13 by those who have no love, are tired of love, have been broken by love, are sick of feeling forced by the commercial machine to buy useless gifts, or those who just want another excuse to celebrate something and drink. St. Upid has a Facebook account, but he seems to be distracted these days. He also has a Twitter ID, but is apparently too busy to Tweet at the moment. Perhaps he's found love himself and is now spending February 13 at the mall searching for that perfect V-Day gift. I don't know.

Happy Valentine's Day to those who celebrate it!

Happy St. Upid's Day to those who don't!

February 5, 2011

Literally...One of My Top Pet Peeves

I'm watching a new show on the Syfy channel called Face Off. It's one of the few reality shows I'm willing to give a try. The concept is cool, but I'm only halfway through the first episode and the contestants have literally annoyed me to the point I'm ready to delete it from my DVR and never watch it again.

As with other reality shows, this one has little side interviews with the contestants. They explain what was happening, give their opinions, snark on other contestants, etc. The problem? This bunch injects the word "literally" into their interviews quite often and always inappropriately. It's happening so often, it could be a drinking game.

"Yay! Gabe said literally! Take a drink!"

"Anthony just said it. Take another shot!"

"Go, Jessica! Drink! Oops, getting a little tipsy now."

People. When you use the word literally, it means that you actually did whatever you just stated. So when one guy said he "literally did back flips." I expected to see him doing them. No. It doesn't mean you mentally did something or you emotionally did something. It means you ACTUALLY did it.

I hear people misuse this word every day and I'm always tempted to correct them, but I can't. That would be rude. Instead I grit my teeth and let it go. But maybe I should begin speaking up. Maybe if I teach a few people the proper use of the word, perhaps it will literally ripple across America and things will change. Or maybe I'll literally get a slap in the face and never bring it up again.

January 30, 2011

An Evening of Dumb Moves

How many dumb moves can one person make within a ten minute time period? Let's find out.

Dumb Move #1 - Opening my front door without first looking to see who was knocking after dark.

Dumb Move #2 - Assuming because I live in a small town, it's OK to open the door without looking to see who it is.

Dumb Move #3 - Standing with the door open as the innocent looking late teen/early 20's guy explains his program and need to ask me questions.

Dumb Move #4 - Answering his questions, which included telling him where exactly I work, what I do for a living, how long I've been there, etc. Oh and by the way, that there is no one else at home that he can talk to to ask these same questions.

Dawning realization that I'm making Dumb Moves...

Hmm. I just told this stranger I'm gone all day and that I might live alone. Time to cover myself, "Yeah, my boyfriend lives here too, but he's busy. He's freelances and works here out of the condo all day." (Um, no, that doesn't sound made up at all.) For all you potential stalkers, creepers, etc. out there, I have a big dog, a 6' 4" boyfriend, sleep with a gun under my pillow, and recently obtained my black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Test me.

It turned out the kid wanted to sell me magazines, and I'm assuming he's not planning on coming back to murder or rob me. Before any of you lecture me, my neighbor took care of that.

Lesson Learned - Always look to see who is knocking before answering the door after dark (or any time really), and never give out personal information to strangers, even in small town nowhere.

January 26, 2011

Magical Moving Mushrooms

Agaricus Bisporus

I go to the same grocery store for most of my stuff because it's the best deal in town. I also like the fact that I can count on items being in their usual spot each and every visit; with one glaring exception.

Yesterday it took me forever to find my beloved mushrooms, and this isn't the first time. I've decided they move them when they know I'm coming just to mess with me. I swear they're on a different aisle and a different shelf every time. Conspiracy? Or imagination?

January 23, 2011

Pet Peeve of Mine

Among things that bug me, news headlines that are poorly written. 

Today online at a Spokane news station... 

"Family Attacked by Hammer Asking For Community's Help."  

Really? There is a homicidal hammer on the loose? And it's asking for the community's help? Should I be afraid of other tools as well, or is the hammer working alone?

January 21, 2011

An Eight Week Agenda

Death has been a theme in my life lately. No, I haven't lost anyone near and dear to me (thankfully), but a few people I know have, and that has prompted conversations one normally wouldn't have with friends and co-workers.  One of the more interesting focused on what we would do if we found out we had only eight weeks to live.

A friend and I, of course, had the standard answer of selling everything we own and doing all the things on our "bucket lists."  Once we had shared what that might include (trips to Rome and New Zealand for example), she paused for a moment and added that a friend of hers had been told he had only eight weeks to live two years ago, and all the bucket list stuff flew out the window. Instead of living it up around the world or going on daring adventures, all he wanted to do was stay at home and simply be with his loved ones. If he couldn't get the transplant he needed, he wanted to spend every waking hour enjoying his last moments on earth surrounded by people he loved, who loved him in return. This made such sense. Why go off and spend your last weeks doing things that didn't include the people you care about? Fortunately, he received the liver he needed and he's still here to enjoy life.

But this made me wonder. If I really only had only eight weeks to live, and if I were really honest with myself, what would I do? If the eight weeks was a sure thing, no transplant on the horizon, no misdiagnosis.  What would I do?

  • I'd sell everything I own, and I mean everything. My condo, the contents, my car. Everything. I won't need them in eight weeks. Why not get as much cash as I can for them while I'm here?

  • I'd use the cash to travel to each and every friend and family member who is scattered across the U.S. and Paraguay. And if anyone wanted to join me on the journey, so much the better! If they were all located in one place, I'd stay there, but they aren't, so travel I must.

  • But before I left on my sojourn, I'd round up everything I've written that was even remotely worthy of being read and every photograph I've taken that touched my soul, and I would have them printed in a book that could be distributed to those I love as part of my legacy. This is who I am...this is who I was. And I'd make darn sure that the best photo ever taken of me was included, so generations from now, someone would know what I looked like as they read my work or admired my photography.

  • And if there was any money left at the end of my adventure, I'd see if there was any way I could set up a trust for each of my nieces and nephews with strict stipulations. They would have to take a year off after high school, travel somewhere outside the U.S., volunteer their time for at least six months, not get married or have children during that year, and learn another language. If they did all that, and I'm sure I'd think of more "live it up while you're young" things for them to do, then they would get the money from the trust to do with as they pleased.

  • Finally, I'd end my journey in Texas. It wouldn't really matter where, as long as it was in my home state (but preferably not West Texas or far South Texas...maybe it does matter). I would want to breathe my last at home, hopefully with at least one or two people who loved me, who were there to hold my hand and wish me well on the next leg of my journey.

So that's what I would do if I found out today, without any doubt, that I only had eight weeks to live. What, dear reader, would you do? I'd really like to know, so e-mail me or comment on this blog.

January 17, 2011

True Classic - True Grit

Before we begin, let me state first, dear reader, that I'm not a movie critic, nor am I an avid movie buff who knows the ins and outs of moviedom, but I do feel led to comment on one I saw today.  My mom and I took a little break from life and went to see the remake of True Grit on the advice of friends and co-workers.

Normally I'm not a big fan of remakes if the original is a classic. Why mess with a good thing? I've never understood the need to take something beloved by many and redo it, sometimes to the point of being unrecognizable. It seems lazy. But today's remake was the rare exception.

I went in with an open mind, hoping for the best and having not seen the original in many years. I had it on good authority that this remake was one worth viewing, so my hopes were high. I was not disappointed. What made it even better, I went home and immediately watched the original version. Nothing against Mr. Wayne, an American icon to be certain, but the new version improved upon the old. It took away bits that were unnecessary, changed things that needed to be, and casting was dead on.

But I think what struck me most about the revamped version, what I most admired on the part of the actors and directors, was the ability of the actors to convey so much in subtle gestures or facial expressions. All it took sometimes was a look, a nod, a hand twitch for the audience to know exactly what was going through the character's mind. Subtle, and everyone got it. There was no need to overdo a scene or explain what was meant. They gave us credit for being intelligent people who would get it. That seems to be missing from so many movies and television shows these days.

Often I'll watch something and wonder why the creators, the writers, the directors think the American public is so simple that we won't get the subtleties they give us. Why do they feel the need to follow a brilliant scene with something that diminishes it by blatantly explaining what we just saw? Give us credit. We get it. So when a movie like True Grit comes along and the actors are allowed to really show how good they are at their craft, we appreciate it. This is why I'm hearing about the movie from so many people.

And there you have it, dear reader, my first movie recommendation on my blog. If you don't like westerns, you should give this one a try. If you're not a big Jeff Bridges fan, look past it. If you think two hours is too long to sit in a theater, OK, I'll give you that one, but you must see it when it's available on On Demand or DVD.

January 4, 2011

Live It Again Moments

It's a new year, dear readers, and rather than give you a list of resolutions I'll likely never keep, I thought it would be fun to take a stroll down memory lane and tell you the ten things I wish I could experience for the first time again. We all have those moments, those experiences, those feelings that were so amazing, they can only be felt that way once.  And so, after much thought, and in no particular order, here are my...

Top 10 Wish-I-Could-Live-It-Again Moments

  • Staying up late, watching really bad, black and white, scary movies as a kid - The thrill of staying up past my bedtime on a Saturday night, struggling to keep my eyes open until the closing credits, and being scared by zombies was awesome.

  • Taking a road trip alone in Texas at night - I felt like I had discovered the secret to losing all stress, and quite possibly have never been so relaxed as an adult.  My hair was a mess and I didn't care.  My car was iffy on making the trip and I didn't care.  My bank account was low and I didn't care.  I was young and just didn't care about much.

  • The wonder of snow - White stuff fell from the sky and the first time I remember seeing real snow, I was mesmerized.  I felt as if I had stepped into an old movie, one in which people sang about their feelings and danced for no good reason. It was magical.

  • Riding a bicycle - For the first time, I had wheels!  OK, so I didn't know how to stop the thing, other than running it into the garage door (after laughing at me, my family showed me how to use the breaks), but the freedom I experienced was great.  I could go places!

  • Singing in front of a crowd - There is nothing so thrilling as singing in front of a group of people, but doing it for the first time, was electrifying. I made people smile simply by opening my mouth. That was a first. Usually opening my mouth did the opposite.

  • Entering and winning my first writing contest - I never expected to place, let alone win; when I did, I was elated. No one outside my trusted circle, not even my family, had read my writing. The rush I felt is hard to explain.

  • Buying my first vehicle on my own - The thrill of knowing exactly what I wanted, how much I was willing to pay, and negotiating a lower price than I thought I could was incredible. I left the dealership feeling like I could do anything.

  • Getting my first library card - Having a card of my own, with my name on it felt like I had been given the key to the entire library. They may as well have engraved my name above the door because I felt like I owned the place. I could check out anything I wanted without asking my mom to do it for me.

  • Owning my first computer - It was the future and I had to be part of it. My first had no hard drive, only 640K of memory, a 5.25" floppy drive, and didn't do much of anything, but I knew it was the beginning of an exciting love affair with technology. 

  • Seeing Jaws for the first time - I saw it in a small town in Texas in an outdoor movie theater where we sat in lawn chairs, and I have never been so frightened of something that truly existed. It was awesome. Swimming in the river was never the same again.