Saturday, November 27, 2004

What an Idiot!

I'm not saying that reading a book makes me an idiot but why did I chose to read an author's most recent book first instead of first reading the author's oldest book? Thank goodness her books aren't a series or I'd really be an idiot.

The new-to-me author is now a favorite after reading her "I Love Everybody (and Other Atrocious Lies): True Tales of a Loudmouth Girl". If you haven't read anything by Laurie Notaro and you really dig sarcasm, silly humor and say-it-didn't-really-happen true stories, then you're missing out. It's not often that I read someone who makes me laugh (loudly) out loud but she does. What a fabulous find!

I'm now on track and have started Laurie's first book "The Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club" and am enjoying it thoroughly. She's a great storyteller and you feel like you've finally made a friend who has more worse days than you, so she's good to have around for that.

She's also inspirational as she's toughed it out to follow her dreams of becoming a writer. Kudos to you Laurie and thanks for sharing the never-a-dull-moment roadtrip! if you read "I Love Everybody" and can't believe that someone blew out their britches the way she did, just ask me, I can vouch that it really is possible. My story has to do with a Christmas tree and a pair of jeans.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

What a Relief!

I have three cats. Three cats share one litter box. One litter box, scooped daily, requires continuous purchasing of kitty litter. I've had a cat in my life since I was seven, so let's see, 38 take away 7 equals ... hmmm .... a helluva buncha years. That means, ohmagawd, I don't even want to attempt the math on how much money I've dropped on cat droppings!

Last week, I made a trip to Target to buy the big kahuna box of litter. I think it's something like 380 lbs. You can imagine my relief when I saw the following text printed on the box: SAFE FOR USE AROUND PETS.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Baby, It's Cold Outside

FINALLY... there's a little nippage in the air! (Oh how I miss the seasons...why am I living in Florida??) I spent a delightful morning, er, morning/afternoon, sitting outside the Starbucks in San Marco today chattin' up with a new friend, Ken. We met at 930am and yakked into the afternoon, but who can blame us? It was a delightful fall day in northeast Florida. The winds blew consistently and believe it or not, my tender cheeks got a little windburnt. I've never considered coffee talk to be so hazardous. This evening my cheeks are rosy and warm... as though I'd spent the afternoon on a motorbike ride.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Like Dana, I Don't Want Alzheimers

Dana told me recently that she didn't want to get Alzheimers so she has learned how to knit. Ok, that's not exactly how the conversation went, but it's the gist of it. The point she wanted to emphasize is that exercising our brains is believed to ward off the onset of Alzheimers. She's aware of this and is therefore making an effort to continue learning. Makes sense.

I thought about this over the last few weeks and realized that I have a lot of free time on my hands. I've been feeling rather dumb and unchallenged lately when it comes to my own brain. I read fairly often, so my brain doesn't stay in a constant state of slumber, but I'll admit to not challenging it lately.

Knowing that I'll be friends with Dana into our old age made this whole anti-Alzheimers thing a bit of a challenge. I don't want to be forgotten, maybe some moments or things I've said, but not ME. Additionally, I don't want to forget her, she is some kinda something special and I'm not going to get down to the finish line and forget someone whose meant so much to me for such a long time. She'd be down right pissed and so I have an obligation here.

For years, I've been dabbling in self-teaching and getting just about nowhere. I've decided to add a little bit of structure to the training and so I enrolled in an online course through the local community college. The course is CREATING WEB PAGES and will last six weeks. I believe I can commit to six weeks, especially since I can eat while exercising.

Remembering My Mother

Today is my mother's birthday. Well, birthDATE.

My mom died in the early 90s from bone cancer and a slew of other factors that she was pretty much in denial about. Something about drinking and liver disease. I don't usually have a strong, nasty tone when I talk of my mother but something hit me early Saturday morning when I woke from a dream about my mom and the house I called home.

When I've discussed my childhood, I've always mentioned the alcholism, the fact that I was an adult child of the disease, that I was a caregiver to my mother, that I grew up fast and was a good kid in spite of the conditions that surrounded me. I've always loved my mother deeply and still do if loving the dead is something the living can actually do.

Before her death, we talked about days past, feelings felt and impressions left. I felt settled when she died. I'd come to terms with my upbringing, with her parenting, with her, the woman she became and the woman I was still becoming. I'd let go of grudges, anger, and the shitload of old emotional baggage. When my mom took her last breath with me on the phone, I'd felt that it was the final release of her pain and that was a relief to me.

When I woke up crying Saturday morning, I felt a weight on me again, a weight I'd not felt for many years. I felt angry, I was pissed, I was picturing the images in my dream, images from the house I grew up in and was always ashamed of. The house that my mom used to harbor junk, dirt, disease, was the same place I was supposed to see as a safe-haven from the world around me. I knew no one else who lived in a house like mine and I always wanted better. I woke up remembering:
  • The dog chained to the tree at the very back of the yard. What kind of protection could he POSSIBLY have provided?
  • The non-working, rusting car behind the house. Why did I always have to mow around that piece of junk?
  • The house that smelled like dog piss for YEARS! The furniture and carpets were stained and stiff from the constant urination of in-house dogs.
  • The countless cardboard boxes and paper bags that stored valueless items. The depression ended YEARS ago, really, it did.
  • The bedroom I shared with my mother while my brother was living with us. How could she DARE bring men into that room while I was asleep?
  • The stench of rotting and molding items from a basement that flooded several times a year. The one valuable item she owned was a stereo she brought back from Germany and she left it to bathe in flood water. I never understood that.
  • The noise when she and my older siblings would gather for partying. My bedroom never offered the sanctuary I sought. I still yearn for silence as an adult.

I don't know why those painful memories haunted me in my sleep the other night. Is it because I'm feeling the sense of dissatisfaction as I embark on a life-changing event? Is it telling me that I have come a long way and I should be satisfied with the achievement and progress I've made so far? Is it because I've never shared those remembered details with anyone and I just needed to release them? I don't know. I do know that I awoke with an urge to write and that is not an urge that strikes me very often. I suppose I am thankful to have had that be a catalyst for action because I am feeling the freeing sensation as I type now.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Pumpkin Pickin'

One autumn I was in the metro DC area visiting my friend Sylvie. She and I went to the MD state renaissance festival and afterwards, we drove off the beaten path to see some rural areas and small burgs that dotted the countryside. It was a wonderful afternoon of siteseeing and stealing. You see, we found an outside floral/plant market that had some wonderful pumpkins for sale. We snooped around, picked out the perfect pumpkins but couldn't find anyone to talk to regarding a purchase. SO, we loaded up Sylvie's trunk and got in the car. After giggling like schoolgirls for a while, we decided the best thing to do was to leave some cash beneath a pumpkin and skip getting a receipt. To this day I still wonder who found the green under the orange. Hopefully it was the shop owner.

Who Let the Blogs Out

Ok, I stole that title from a book I saw advertised on Blogger.Com. My attraction to catchy titles continues from my previous post.

On occasion, I stumble around Blogger.Com to review other blogs. Most I can't understand, but there are the few tasty morsels that make me want more and here is one I found today:

PonderRoom I especially love her November 13 post about Emily Litella. *RIP Gilda!*

Curl, Interrupted

In the November issue of SKIRT!, there's an article title of Curl, Interrupted. I absolutely love a play on words, a title that references something else of current note really catches my attention. This title, as you may know, is similar to the book/film Girl, Interrupted.

Upon reading the title, I remembered my recent ride to Arkansas. I stayed in a cabin with a friend from the MTF and a couple of his friends, a married couple, Mark and Diane. For anyone who knows me, I'm typically a lower-maintenance kind-of-girl. I have my rare moments of fuss, but they are truly far and few between. So much of my travel is by motorbike so I figure, why bother? Helmet hair comes with the territory, ponytails are the quick-fix to any flat head of hair. That is how most people see me, hair pulled back.

On this particular weekend getaway, I happened to be sharing space with a hair stylist. She probably looked at me with sorrow in her heart as she saw my mane pulled back into a ponytail or perhaps a French braid buried beneath a baseball cap. I think the disdain finally got to be too much. As we lounged around late one evening, Diane started questioning my haircare habits. Now, if I was of the sensitive girly sort, I may have taken offense. She was not cruel in her questioning but it was something I wasn't used to, to say the least.

I'd just blown my hair dry, which for me is a great effort that doesn't take place all too often. I'm of the natural sort, you see. I dig letting my hair dry on its own, letting the mangled curly waves do what they want. I don't like to be controlled, why would I want to control my locks?

She was sitting in the living room using a flat iron on her very own curly curls. Unlike me, Diane was a girly girl of the utmost. A beautiful woman and kind. Her accent was a pure mix of her Appalachian upbringing and Alabama settling. We surely covered the spectrum as far as types of females goes.

She'd obviously taken notice of my wavy hair and asked if I'd ever had my hair straightened. "No, I'd not," I replied, trying not to sound ignorant of hair trends nor put off by what her comment could have eluded. So never to be one to turn down the chance of someone touching my hair, I agreed to have her use the flat iron on me. She guaranteed that I'd love it! That my hair would feel silky and appear shiny! I was waiting for the standard line of BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE to follow, but it didn't. Thank goodness, I was trying to relax after a day of riding. I didn't want to be subjected to stressful sales lines while chillin' out in my PJs.

Without fail, her promise proved positive. My hair DID feel silky and it did appear shiny! How magical! My hair is a favorite feature of mine but I do admit to neglect. I just don't care for the upkeep, the maintenance, the cost, the time. I suppose it showed since Diane politely offered to primp it for me. Without question, if my Gerber multi-tool had a sharp pair of scissors on it, I'd have gotten a haircut that evening. Wonder when they'll start producing tools for the girl on the go?

Friday, November 12, 2004

At Last, The Sequel

I was at the first viewing of Bridget Jones' The Edge of Reason today. I've been eagerly awaiting the release of this film, fearing my level of expectation all the while. So few sequels can meet the energy and impact of its prequel, or at least that's popular opinion. I must say, I did enjoy today's movie but I won't go see it three times as I did the first flick. At the same time, I can not believe the movie was showing here since it is in limited release. We are never at the front of the line! What happened?!?!

There was something about that first movie that just captured my heart. I loved the honesty of Bridget and was envious of her ability to journal. *curses! will I ever get on track and journal for myself?!?* Who can resist her clumsy charm and continuous battle with foot-in-mouth disease? And it's impossible not to melt for the magnificent Mark Darcy, played by Colin Firth. *swoon* Without fail, I giggle my butt off every time her friends lend their support even in praise of her less-than-able attempts at culinary art.

The soundtrack of the first one was great, too. I am debating tonight whether or not to get the second one. Several of the songs played in the film are already in my collection so I'd hate to duplicate. I'll take a look at it over the weekend and make a final decision.

On a sidenote... I nearly threw my bag of plain M&Ms at a chick sitting a few seats away from me after she gasped at Renee Zellweger's character and exclaimed: GOD! She's SO fat! I was stunned, truly. For fact-o-files, Renee bumped up from her usual size 10 to a size 14 for her role.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Webless Wednesday

I've accepted a new self-induced goal. (I make it sound like an injury of sorts, but it really isn't.) I've decided to make Wednesdays WEBLESS, meaning NO internet access. Why? Am I THAT addicted? No, not really, but I do realize that a lot of time is wasted while online, time that truly needs to be devoted to things that are more important or time sensitive.

Yesterday was the kick-off and it went very well. I managed to get a lot of housework done and I made a big dent on an artsy/craftsy project that will need mailing out to a few friends and my dad in time for Thanksgiving. It felt good to end the day knowing I'd made some headway in my effort to end laziness and tend to tasks that I'd been putting off. In a word, procrastinating.

I will admit to cutting into the 24-hour goal 10 minutes early. *I actually started writing out excuses and decided to delete. I don't owe anyone an explanation! :) I'm pleased with my achievements of yesterday and so I'll leave it at that.*

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

What Say You?

Voters spoke.
I'm so glad.
I hope for unity and success for our country in many different facets.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Weekend in the Ozarks

For three years, I've been reading posts about the wonderful touring opportunities in the northwest corner of Arkansas and I now know that everyone's reviews were based on truth. As of this past weekend, I can now say that I've ridden in the Ozarks of Arkansas. I found the roads and the people to be delightful and look forward to a return ride one day. There's simply no way to experience all that this area has to offer in one long weekend.

It took me much longer to reach my destination in Eureka Springs than what was projected due to inclimate weather. I hit the nasties as soon as I had lunch in Birmingham and then again when I hit the uphill climb outside of Conway, AR on US65. What should have taken about three hours took around five. Yes, I rode conservatively. I couldn't see so I had little choice other than to pull off and that wasn't happening. It rained and it was pitch black. It was foggy and much to my surprise, there was a fair amount of traffic on that mountain road after midnight on a weekday! Looking through a visor and windshield in those conditions had me white-knuckled a few times, especially when some local yahoo would drive up behind me with their ^%$#!ing brights on! I was blinded, as one can well imagine. If I didn't have a wiseguy on my tail, I was stuck behind a truck haulin' chickens. Stinky, feather-losing, making-me-feel-bad-about-being-a-carnivore chicken truck. It was downright nasty and Tyson owns a lot of chickens in that part of the country, I'm here to tell ya.

A little before 2AM, I finally made it through Eureka Springs and out into nowhere. That's where I was splitting a cabin with Ken and his friends. When I saw the street sign that led to the cabin, I felt a sense of relief wash over me until I took a squinting look at the road I had to ride to get to the cabin. Oh crapola... dirt. Well, considering all the rain to hit that area, it was no longer dirt, no this was mud. Spots of mud, anyway. The road was actually very rocky and on a slight slope. I put on those white knuckles I was wearing about 30 minutes prior and a left turn I did make. It took longer to traverse that 1/4? 1/2? 83? mile road than to ride the previous 1,000 miles, I'm sure of it!

On Friday, the wind blew the AR right off and I ended up in Kansas. The sign leading there from Missouri on US54 said I was on the Yellow Brick Road but I never saw yellow and I didn't see brick until I rolled into Fort Scott. I collected a national park stamp and had lunch at a steakhouse/bbq joint that didn't serve bbq on their lunch menu. WHAT THE?!? I was quite eager to eat beef brisket, but NOOooo. I managed to collect a couple more stamps that day with stops in Missouri and Arkansas before getting back to the cabin-on-hell's-driveway.

Finally on Saturday, the sun came out. It'd been a sprinkly and damp couple of days so seeing the sun was a welcomed sight. I headed south with intentions of going to see a friend in Gilbert then to the BeanFest. I got distracted. I saw a sign for, yes, a national wildlife management area and was lured by the chance to collect yet another stamp. I rode past the camping signs and saw a sign for the WMA so that's when I turned. The county road I took was fantastic! Wide sweepers, a few tighter, lower-speed twisties curling through some farm land. After 11 miles, I turned left onto a dirt road. (Oh yippy skippy.) Fortunately, the road was dry but I was still a little unsure. I pulled off to double check the entry in the passport. I confirmed the WMA and slowly rolled down the dirt road. I didn't get to roll too far because the road ended. Well, not completely, I mean, it continued on the other side of the Buffalo River! I don't need no steenkin' dual sport, I thought to myself! Well, maybe I do. I managed to get Thor turned around and facing uphill again and then I took a look at the road that may or may not be under the water. The current was streaming by and I had no way of telling whether the road really existed so I decided to keep Thor faced upwards. I took pictures, watched a fish jump then glide over the road's waterfall and just enjoyed the solitude available at the road's end. The Buffalo River is the nation's first national river. It's very popular for fishing and floating, as they call it in those parts. I believe they mean canoeing.

A river runs through it! The Buffalo River near Hasty, AR:

Over the road the river flowed:

After that enjoyable respite, I headed further south to Gilbert to visit my friend, have lunch, have pie, play with his puppy and love on his cat. It was a magnificent day and I thought of the outhouse race a time or two but I couldn't pull myself away from the quietness of Gilbert. I'd learned about Gilbert from a Yahoo! search and felt compelled to visit this little speck on the map. The town is located on county road 333, 3 miles til you dead-end at the Buffalo River. Population is posted as 33, but truth be told, there are only 23 people living there now. The joke is every time someone gets pregnant, someone ends up leaving town. There's a general store that sells camping and water sport supplies and offers guided canoe/kayak trips. There's also a restaurant and oh, the "federal building" a.k.a. the post office. There are a couple guest houses sprinkled in town as well as the house my friend owns, which is a youth hostel. I found out that the river road I discovered was known as the low river bridge. Clearly, the river was not low.

The magnificent MissT:

The once homeless Marigold:

My stressfree afternoon was washed down river once I got back on hell's driveway. It was just after dark when I hit the road(?) leading to the cabin. I was managing ok, stomach in knots, knuckles ready to rip through the skin, but I was managing. I can negotiate my bike in less than perfect situations but not always. Obviously. Thor got a squiggly rear end, sunk in a muddy bog and decided to lay down on his left side. My skills were diminished by the muddy hole and Thor wallered in the mud like the hog he is. Thankfully, I was very close to the cabin and had help lifting him out of the hole so I could finish the few yards back to the cabin. Damn that mud! I'd cursed it since I got there and it finally got the best of me. Thor was fine and I've since noticed a bruise on my lower right leg and a very sore left shoulder. I must have pulled a muscle on the lift. :(

Sunday started early as I wanted to make the trip home in one day, just as I had on the way from home on Wednesday. It was a chilly and wet morning... I'd left as I'd arrived. The mountain portion was a little slow due to the rain and road conditions. They've been doing some grating and that makes the ride a little squirrelly. I ended up putting on my electrics in Conway just to take off the chill since I'd gotten a little damp. I only used it intermittently about three times and shed the extra gear once I made a stop in Mississippi. I made it home around midnight with a gorgeous and bright moon to keep me company.

I didn't do the main roads that riders rant about but the roads I did were enjoyable. As with many places I've been, I've left a little something behind so I can visit again at some point. Arkansas is truly a wonderful riders destination and was well worth the distance and weather to experience.

Ready, Set, VOTE!

I was able to vote early, so I took the opportunity to cast my ballot last week. My wait wasn't too long on Monday, about 25 minutes in line. In comparison, my husband voted on Saturday and his wait was 2.5 hours. (neither of us wore flip-flops in our line-waiting)

A couple weeks ago, I received a bracelet from a penpal. Thanks Mrs. Andrews for the surprise and for the info.