Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Finally Finished

Ah....accomplishment! My couch has been in mid-recover for a couple of years now. And finally in the last 2 days it is done. No more botanical print. Tiger still has his blankie in the corner, but there is a green covered cushion for that corner too. It feels good to be done. And now with the sewing machine still out and a little fabric left over, I will attack the seat cushion on the rocking chair and maybe make a few more of the red print pillows. Or maybe re-do the seats of the dining room chairs. With today as my last totally free day of vacation, we'll see what happens.

Monday, December 28, 2009

What happened to Christmas?

Wow...that was a blur. It seems like November 14, the Tracey kick-off to the Christmas season was just yesterday. I can't believe they'll be taking down the lights on Monument Circle in just 9 short days. The lights from Monument Circle are one of the things that I always look forward to at this time of year. I used to hate the darkness of winter; I go to work in the dark and I come home in the dark most of the time. But, my route always takes me past the circle so that I can see the Christmas lights. I've even figured out the exact point when I need to look to the right when I am driving to work through the 65/70 connector through the city. I drive home at street level, so it is much easier to see, but I always look forward to those lights.

This year Trevor and I did our Christmas craft that he gave as gifts to all of his brother's and sister's. We did stepping stones for everyone's gardens, once summer comes. While this was an awkward craft, kind of heavy to be exact, it was one of my favorites to do. While I'm not looking to go on a round 2 of mixing 130 pounds of concrete in my house, I liked that we were able to use bottle caps for the designs, thanks to Goose the Market. Trevor made the designs for each person on his own and painted everything too. I was the concrete mixer and molder. The picture above shows Trevor with a few of the stones that he made.

We actually finished Trevor's craft on December 19 when we wrapped everything and took them to his family Christmas celebration. The good thing for me is that this had inspired me to continue on and make some crafts on my own. I made a couple of gifts this year, which actually haven't gone to their recipients yet, so no pictures yet. And, since I had the sewing machine out, I've been finishing up a craft that has been stuck at it's midpoint indefinitely. I've been sewing all day today, and one more day should do it. And one more trip to a store. More to follow if I do finish this week.

I spent Christmas at my brother Bob's house. It was great to spend Christmas up there. Their house is always so relaxing and the food is fabulous. We had steak for Christmas dinner cooked on the grill. I can't even tell you the last time I had a steak cooked on a grill, but it was probably at Bob's house. Delicious!

It has just all gone so fast. I still have 6 days of vacation, so I'm trying to not think about work at all. It hasn't been difficult.

I hope you all are having a great holiday season.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

This Interruption brought to you by Facebook

I said I'd never do it, but I did. I signed up for Facebook. And that, along with a few other things, have prevented me from getting back to this blog. It's not like I ever post anything on Facebook though. Mainly I just lurk out there, reading posts from my friends, and playing games like Farkle and Yacht. And unfortunately, I figured out that I am pretty good at the Facebook poker. (But I'm smart enough to know that if I were actually in a room with someone playing poker, they'd know exactly what was in my hand.).

All my lurking on Facebook though, brought me to the picture that you see above. It is a picture of my Dad that I had never seen before. He is sitting on the back steps of the house he and my Mom built, and I don't mean that they had it built. He built it. They moved there in 1986, and he is sitting where the deck will be, so I would imagine this was taken sometime very close to the Fall of 1986. He looks so happy.

Finding this photo was worth joining Facebook. I am the Lucky Girl.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Before Meets After....

My brother Keith organized a work weekend at my Mom's farm this weekend. I am so tired, and I know everyone else is too. But, we got a lot done. After all was said and done we were able to: remove storm windows, paint, caulk, clean, and replace the storm windows; power wash the house, garage, lawn furniture, deck, and Red's barn; remove rust from the barn door and porch railing; paint the barn and barn door; tear down the shed under the apple trees; put round-up on all needed areas; clean out the barn loft; repair the roof of the barn and re-shingle; paint the porch roof; organize the desk area in the kitchen with some new filing cabinets; organize the computer desk; and do general cleaning inside...i.e., dust, vacuum, clean bathrooms, kitchen cabinets, and the bar area in the kitchen.

It is a really good thing that we had about 20 hard-workers at the house. Everyone did a great job with everything. I'm especially glad that my nieces have brought some great men into the family who went up and down ladders and up on the barn roof with joy. They must really love those girls.

And, the little shed (pictured above) is no more. It has suffered the destructive nature of the groundhog family, who burrowed into the ground and actually buried a bicycle. Lots of stuff was in that shed. My Dad used to keep it all pretty cleaned up inside, but lack of use took its toll on everything. We pulled out lots of junk, and memories.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day Weekend 2009

This has been a great weekend, and we still have one day left. A lot of stuff has gotten done around my house and my best boy Trevor and I have had a lot of fun too. Trevor has been staying with me on Labor Day weekend for the last 4 years. We always are happy that we have an "extra day" to do something special.

His first Labor Day with me, Trevor and I went to his first "real race" at the Indianapolis Speedrome. The Speedrome is a local track and home to Figure 8 racing. You can sometimes see it on the Speed Channel on cable. You all watch that channel don't you? Me too. The next year, we started riding our bikes at the canal downtown. It is a pretty safe place to ride your bike, because there is no danger of traffic. You just have to watch out for going in the water.

This year, we did another "new" activity for Trevor. With my new found interest in golf, I decided to try to get him hooked too. I got him a junior set of clubs at Play It Again Sports, and we went to the Golf Dome. He loved it! And, he was very good too. Most of his shots were straight down the middle, and he even hit the red target (see photo above). His only question was why I didn't buy the large bucket of golf balls.

It is also tradition for us to go to the Indianapolis Indians last game of the season, where there is a big fireworks show. This year, the fireworks were the best we've seen yet.

All this was mixed in with cleaning the basement and a closet in preparation for a garage sale next weekend. I think I found plenty of stuff to put in the sale, and got a closet cleaned out and shelves put up in the basement in the process.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The First Round

Today was the first 9 holes on a real golf course. It was GREAT! I had so much fun. I shot a 51, which I have heard is pretty good for the first timer. I did hit a couple of good shots, but there is a lot of room for improvement. I almost can't wait to go again to see if I actually can get better. Is tomorrow to soon? :-)

And then...I went back to work. It actually was a good end to a stressful week. I made my boss laugh a lot this afternoon, which was good for everyone. Lately, it has come to my attention that I am quite the comedian. My brother called me at work about two weeks ago and he said, "I hate to call you at work. I never know if you are in some big meeting, or in the middle of telling a joke." I never realized I was that funny. Maybe my boss just laughs at everything.

Amid all the pretty good golf shots, there was one that I would like to highlight. In fact, I don't know that anyone has ever made this shot at the Orchard Golf Center. I am at least one of the very few who has made a shot into the open garage door of the maintenance shack. I was not aiming for it, but maybe somewhere in my subconscious I knew it would be the funniest shot of the day.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Tiger, the wing-man

Tonight, Tiger and I went out to dinner with my nephew Johnny. We went to Plump's Last Shot, a bar in Broad Ripple where you can take your dog and sit on the deck. Plump's is in an old house and is owned by the family of Bobby Plump, basketball player from Milan, Indiana who made the winning shot for the 1954 Indiana State High School basketball championships (as depicted in the movie Hoosiers).

Very nice weather tonight in Indy and the deck at Plump's was full of people and dogs. But you know my Tiger, he is a looker. No less than 10 very pretty girls came up and asked Johnny if they could pet his dog. I'm sure if I wasn't there, he would have ended up sitting at a table with a bunch of them. Even he agreed.

I always tried to get my nephew David to take Tiger to the dog park to see if he could meet a girl, but he would never do it. I just don't think he realized the power of the Lucky Dog.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Last Dose

Tomorrow morning will be my last dose of the awful medicine for poison Ivy. Poison Ivy makes me crazy, and this medicine makes me just slightly less crazy. The whole ordeal has been 3 weeks, but it really seems like longer. I've been through several tubes of Zanfel, some Cortaid poison Ivy wash, and 2 rounds of this medicine.

The medicine has side effects. I've gained 12 pounds, had a low blood sugar episode, and had lots of energy. The energy has helped some, because I've been super productive at work, but really still not worth it.

My Mom cut an article out of the paper for me about Poison Ivy and a holistic remedy that you take in March and April before the leaves even come out. I'm going to have to research that a little more to see if that will work for me. I may be willing to try. I will be willing to get someone else to trim around the house next year. I will also be sure that the June roundup step is never again skipped.

I'm hoping I never have poison ivy again. But, as you know, hope is not a plan. I need a plan.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

My Life as a Drummer...

Tonight was a very special night. I have always dreamed of being a drummer and really figured that you readers would find out that little known fact by reading some sort of "quiz about me" on Facebook or something. But here I am blurting it out, because I had so much fun tonight pretending to be a drummer!

Tonight I cooked for some friends at their house. I made Calzone, and there are pictures now on the host's website. It was pretty good eats. Chris at the Goose hooked me up with some amazing meats, and I always get my sauce from the Goose too. Very good dinner, followed by a fiery dessert!

After dinner, the hosts broke out the Wii, where they have the "Rock Band" set. I got to be drummer! It was hard, but they say for a beginner I did okay. I kept wanting to do an Elvis song or something. But, I don't think any of those will ever make it on a Wii or any other brand of game. I had a great time. I know that I am no drummer, but it was fun pretending for a night.

Unfortunately, this was probably one of those "one night only" performances. So if you missed it, I guess you are out of luck.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Losing the Battle with Poison Ivy

I've been staring down my poison ivy most of the summer. I had about 5 dots of it that would come and go on my left wrist which I refused to scratch. I even had my wrist rest at work replaced because I thought I may be re-infecting myself everyday.

On Wednesday, I cut down a small tree in my yard (not even sure really what to call it) that was growing near my fence and air conditioner. I probably should have taken care of it earlier in the summer, but Wednesday seemed to be the day. So now as I look at the poison ivy websites (of which there are many), I can't figure out if it was a tree that I cut down, or some sort of poison sumac tree. It doesn't really matter, because I had to go to the doctor yesterday and start the yucky medicine that will stop it. In the words of Dr. Z, "It doesn't really matter what it is, but you've got to take the medicine to turn it off." So, I will be taking a medicine for the next 12 days or so that tastes bad, may make me a little crazy, and may prevent me from sleeping well.

So today, in just a few minutes actually, I'm headed out to trim the bushes in my front yard. They need it, and I figure if I am already doped up on this medicine, I may as well do it now while I am already taking the antidote for whatever I may be allergic too.
Otherwise, I had a great weekend. Diane was in town for weekend before she starts school in a few weeks. I love my sister-in-law! We got to do some shopping yesterday and hanging out. And we had a great dinner on the deck last night. The picture is mainly for Marianne. Almost everything we ate (including beer) came from The Goose.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Vacation Tips, Volume 2

We are home from a great vacation with family. I think it was just the right amount of time. Lots of things to do and we were busy every day, but not so much time as you start really missing home. I think everyone had a great time. And, it was nice to spend some quality time with my nieces and nephews.

Last year, when we came back from Branson, I wrote a little travel tips entry so that both of you (my readers) could learn from my experiences and maybe laugh a little too. This year's version should help you as well.
  1. Driving through the Mountains is hard - If your trip involves crossing any sort of mountainous region, you may want to check a topographical map prior to mapping your route. Mountains take time to go up and down and up and down and up and down, and really aren't as fun as when you were 3. The Scenic Views are cool, but if you have the elevation sickness that sometimes effects people in my family, you're not going to be looking over those cliffs anyway. Check your maps, the flatlands may be less time, even though it takes a few more miles.

  2. Make reservations - This is not 1988. When you are driving along the highway, don't plan on finding a vacancy at any random Holiday Inn Express. There are a lot of people out on the road. They have cell phones and they have all called ahead. You're going to end up driving a lot longer than expected if you don't have a reservation.

  3. If you are good with directions, follow your instincts (especially if your navigator is a senior citizen with one good eye). Sorry, had to stick that joke in there Mom. But really, had I not been pretty sure of where we were going, we would have been going in the wrong direction many times.

  4. Don't plan the most stressful activity for the last day of your vacation. Trying to navigate Washington, D.C. streets is really better done when you are full of energy. Because really, the Capital Beltway is no fun on a Friday afternoon during rush hour (see photo above).

  5. If you bought a special map for the trip, bring it with you.

It was a great trip. I have a great family. I am so lucky, sometimes I can't believe it.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Vacation is almost over

We leave tomorrow. People are getting in their last card game challenges, last trips to the playground, and last visits with the horses. Tomorrow we head to D.C. for the day and then Mom and I will start home, and the others will follow on Saturday.

It has been a great vacation. I'm posting all the pictures (if you are interested) on Facebook.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Does it always rain in Shenandoah?

It's raining again. Not as bad as May, but still rain is expected every day.  I'll tell you a secret....I like it a little bit. It isn't too hot, and we still have lots of things to do, so it isn't that bad. And everything is green, what I think Ireland would look like. Everyone seems to be having a great time, especially Billy. He was so excited that he couldn't sleep. He was up early ready to have fun.

We did the family mini-golf outing today, swam, played games, and Lori and the girls made great Mexican food for dinner. 

I like it here. I could come back. It is very peaceful and the people are so nice. There were several ladies today who remembered me from May. And, I love a southern accent. You know, the kind where words like "there" and "here" are pronounced with 2 syllables. I think I could listen to that for a long time.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Long and Winding Road....leads through West Virginia

We are actually in Virginia now. And relatively well rested, given the circumstances. Yesterday was a long drive. I got up early and had lots of chores to do before leaving the house. Including doing a lawn treatment in the back yard.

After getting everything done, we left the house at 1:00, only a little later than expected. Trouble was, we kept going back (like 3 times) to get stuff that had been forgotten. I'd get two blocks away and say, "Oops, forgot to take the garbage out", and head back. Much better to go back and do that than return to a smelly house.

And then we headed off toward Kentucky. We were planning to stop in Greenup, Kentucky to visit my Mom's cousin Joe Mantz and his wife Diane. You've heard of Greenup, right? Right. They were national cheerleading champions in the 1990's if you ever kept up on that sort of thing.

Around suppertime we finally made it to Joe and Diane's house. It was so great to see them. I hadn't seen them in several years and neither had my Mom. We had a sandwich and I heard some neat stories. Joe told us about a flood in 1937 (when he was 4) and they had to bring boats to the 2nd floor windows of the house where we were sitting. It was hard for me to imagine water that high.

He and my Mom also talked about visits to their grandparents. It was interesting when they were talking about their Grandpa Jackson, I remembered my own Grandpa (his son) doing some of the same things with me. We’re all connected. It hasn’t been that long ago when I was walking and realized that there are times when I walk with the same gait as my grandfather.

My Mom also tried to tell me about a store at the end of Powell Lane in Flatwoods, Kentucky that was a store, the post office, a gas station, and something else, and a guy changed hats depending on what he was doing. I believe the store was there, but the whole changing hats thing….I think she is confusing her life with Petticoat Junction.

We left Joe and Diane’s around 8, and planned to drive another hour or so and stop. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a vacancy. We ended up driving until midnight. I was pretty tired, but it made today very relaxing and fun. I’ll fill you in on that later.

Pictures from a busy weekend (Ketchup)

So, I'm just adding a few pictures here. Trev and I attended the U.S. National Swimming Championships in Indianapolis. Very cool event. We almost saw a world record broken by Ryan Lochte in the 200 Individual Medley. I think he is very strong in the breast stroke, so he was under world record time after his breast stroke, but lost time on the freestyle. He ended up over the record by 3/10s of a second. Very close and very exciting!

We also took a class on feltmaking. It was kind of neat. I made a purse and Trev made a picture. I'm not sure my thing is any good, as I think it already needs some repair and it has only been 2 weeks. Oh well, very interesting to learn. I'd think about doing it again, but I'd probably know a little more so that I could do it better. But it is very labor intensive for a purse.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Newsflash....It is July 12

This is an open letter to pretty much anyone who purchases fireworks for home use, but mainly the people in my neighborhood. (Mainly just a place to air my grievances, because I don't know any of them who will actually read this.)

I don't know whether you all realized it, but July 4 was like 8 days ago. I realize that is still relatively close (since I celebrated my May birthday on June 26, maybe I am being a little harsh). It isn't even in the double digits yet, but COME ON! My dogs have not been able to relieve themselves in peace after dark for 2 weeks.

So really, what is the deal? Last time I checked, there weren't any under 22 year-olds living on my side of the street, but yet you're shooting off bottle rockets every night. Bottle rockets? Really? What is the big thrill in that? And, by the way, if you are going to shoot them off, I invite you to come to the vacant lot next to me and shoot them toward YOUR house. I'm just a little tired of finding the remnants of your "fun" on my deck every morning.

Isn't there some sort of law against this?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Return of the Cook In Me

I just finished making Mixed Berry Muffins. I have not made muffins from scratch in at least 10 years. I used to make them all the time when I had people to cook for. Muffins, cake, cookies, peach cobbler from my Grandma's recipe, I was quite the baker.

I was also a pretty good cook. Not a fancy cook or anything, but good and simple food I can definitely do. When I was 24, I had just graduated and moved to Bridgewater, Massachusetts to work at Bridgewater State College. My Mom took the big trip with me and drove to the east coast with all my stuff in my new Corolla (Bruce I). She stayed with me for about a week before she flew back to Indiana. During that week, she helped me set up my new apartment and taught me how to cook a few things, mostly chicken.

I learned a few other things while I lived on the east coast, like how to cook Italian food. A lot of the students that I worked with were Italian and lived in and around Boston. A student named Lisa Federici taught me how to make Calzones, which has always been one of the top requested meals that I make. I also learned how to make pretty good Chinese food. Bridgewater was also the beginning of staff dinners for me, where I cook for large groups of hungry students. In my first "Indiana Dinner", I made Fried Chicken, homemade biscuits, Green Beans, potatoes, and brownies for about 25 people in my apartment.

Later on in Bloomington, I continued to cook for a lot of people. I had my staff to my house at least once a semester where I cooked for them (usually around 35 - 40 people). I remember grilling ribs in the snow one January because that was the requested dinner.

The funny thing is, I rarely have cooked for my family. Lately, I've been cooking a little more when I go to my brother Bob's house. I do really enjoy cooking for people and rarely get the chance and Bob and Diane seem open to try the stuff that I make. But usually for family dinners I get asked to make the salad, or now brownies. One friend who had plenty of meals at my house said to me one time, "Really, they asked you to make a salad? Don't they know?".

I'm looking forward to our family vacation later this month. I get to break out the Calzones for the family. There will be 17 of us in a cabin in Virginia. Then the secret may be out.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

What Heaven will Look Like

Do you ever wonder what Heaven will look like? I'm sure it will look different for all of us, but this weekend I was reminded of what it will look like for me. My Mom and I took a trip to Ohio and saw some of the most beautiful places on earth. Most of you know of my admiration for farmland, and pictured above you see the most beautiful wheat field that we saw this weekend.

My Uncle Harold also took me on a golf cart ride around what was my Grandpa Jackson's farm. When I was young (pre-teenager years), that was about my favorite place to go in the whole world. My cousin Michelle and I would tromp around the fields and woods exploring every inch of the land. I would wake up early, just to go out with my Grandpa to feed whatever lived in the barn at the time. And if somebody didn't wake me up, I'll tell you I was mad about it.

So, for me, Heaven will have a lot of farm land. Wheat, corn, beans, you name it. There will be a big barn that smells just like my Grandpa's barn. My Dad will be there to give me a big hug, just a little tighter than the one I got from my Uncle Bub on Saturday. And my Grandpa Jackson will be singing to me.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Hey Baby, I've got a time machine in my basement...

I had car trouble this morning. And, I’ll let you know that I sort of expected it. Lately, Bruce II (my 4Runner) has been a little down, a little slow to start, not really himself. Last month I took him to the Goodyear for service (I’ve been going to the Goodyear on Delaware for many years). They put in new spark plugs and did the oil change, checking of the fluids, alignment, etc., so I thought we were in good shape.

The past few days, we’ve had a sluggish start to the car, but really it’s been about 106 degrees out, I’m a little sluggish too. And today, Bruce did not want to start. He was begging to go to the Goodyear.

The good thing about the Goodyear is that they drive you to work when you drop off in the morning. So, the guy who has been working on my car for the last several years drove me to work this morning, as he has for the past few years. There is always interesting conversation in the car. This morning’s topic started with Fun Facts about Indiana. But the trip from Delaware/10th to South Harding can sometimes be long, so on the conversation strays.

A few years ago, the conversation strayed to a point where I found out that my mechanic believes in time travel. Yes, you read that correctly. My friends at work insisted that he was trying to flirt with me, and I am never aware when that is happening. But, I can tell you that, “Hey Baby, I’ve got a time machine in my basement” is not the line that is going to impress me. This guy does an Internet radio broadcast every week with guests that speak of the time travel and conspiracy theories that have entertained me on several rides to work. Let me know if you’d like the link.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I know, I know, I know!!

I know I've promised to write, and not followed through. I'm certainly hoping my reader will forgive me. I don't know where time has gone. Lately, I've had this weird feeling that the summer is almost over. And I promise, this blog entry is the last time I will mention it.

You see, not too many years ago, when I lived a different sort of life in Bloomington, Indiana, my whole work/life schedule was way different than it is now. I worked in this alternate universe where time was measured in semesters. You worked really hard while school was in session, and then when the summer came you enjoyed your town. You could get into your favorite restaurants, take a swim at the outdoor pool, actually have space to work out at the SRSC, and walk your weiner dog across campus in peace. The town moves at a slower pace in the summer.

But...the one thing that drove me crazy back then, was a Country Time Lemonade commercial that talked about the end of summer, and they always started showing it on June 21. Just like December 21 can make me happy because the sun starts being out longer every day, June 21 is the day when the sun goes down just a little bit earlier each night. But when that commercial started playing, it always said "Summer is almost over..."

Now, I don't live at the university pace, but lately "normal" hasn't been normal. What happened to this year? Wasn't it just Christmas? I guess I've been busy this year, and lately, I feel like I need to plan for one of those "hang out days" where Trev and I pack a lunch and go to the park and just do whatever. But if you have to plan for's just not the same.

Pretty soon, the end of summer vacation will be here and then it will be back to school. I am looking forward to fall weather though. That will be nice.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

20/20 Vision...but only in one eye

Mom's surgery went well today. She had cataract surgery on her right eye, and has come home with the word "yes" written in Sharpie above her right eyebrow. I'm not sure she is aware of that yet, and not sure how she'll react to it tomorrow when she looks in the mirror. I may need to get a picture (insert smiley face here).

Eye surgery on TV is much quicker than the real version at Witham Hospital. What they don't show you on TV is the 4 hours of prep work and eye numbing drops that are put in every 30 minutes or so. It is also different than dog eye surgery. My dog Rocky had eye surgery and his was very quick. He was my big, tough boy who did many a surgery without anesthesia. He couldn't have it because of his heart problems. So, even Rocky's surgery was pretty fast. Check Spelling

The good news is that Mom is 20/20 now, but only in the one eye. Maybe I could sign up for this surgery and dump the glasses. Wouldn't that be great? Mom is thinking she'll be able to drive tomorrow, but I'm not sure. How will she do it. With one good eye and one bad eye, her vision will be messed up if she wears glasses, or if she doesn't wear glasses. We'll talk to the doctor again tomorrow and see what he says.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A lot of good can come from a long drive in a Toyota

I haven't been myself the last couple of weeks. I don't know exactly where it all started, but it's better now. I took a drive. I used to drive a lot when I needed some time to think and figure things out. With the open road and some music playing, I can tend to be able to resolve things. And, the good news is that I seem to be getting better at it.

I remember one drive from New York to Marysville, Ohio playing one cassette tape over and over. I was leaving camp with a lot of things unfinished, and did not want to go. I started the trip in tears, but 12 hours later, I was better. I think I was 25 at the time. Later on when I lived in Bloomington, I drove the 37 or 67 route between Bloomington and Indy a lot. Sometimes at weird hours of the night, but always with some music playing. The loop around Lake Monroe was good too, just watch out for the boat ramp on the south side of the lake. It is easy to miss in the dark and you might just drive into the lake!

Lucky for me, tonight I figured out what was up in about 30 minutes. And, I didn't even play my Taylor Swift CD to the point of having to give it away. Bonus!

I think I've been trying to figure out what happened to the 23 year old me. I feel like I was taller then. I know I had better hair. I think I was always funny. But what happened to all the things that I had planned? What were my expectations then and did I live up to them? And then somewhere south of Martinsville I realized that the dreams of a 23 year old didn't come true, but the life I have right now is pretty darn excellent. The 45 year old me is a lot better than the 23 year old ever dreamed.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Just Catching Up...

I've got some pictures to share, so I just thought I'd do a quick post. Last weekend was a quiet Memorial Day weekend here in Indy. It rained a lot of places, but not so much at my house. Just cloudy for the most part. I did get out to do some yard work, and there is still some left to do. But, I also had a nice surprise. When I went out to work in the flower beds at the front of the house, the perennials that I had planted last year....were actually growing! They looked great for flowers that I hadn't even realized were back. So, the pinky, purpley salvia and the dianthus were planted last year. The petunias are new this year. I also planted some other sunflowery looking plants to take the place of the more fragile perennials that didn't make if from last year.

I had a somewhat busy week at work. Why does it always seem like 4 day weeks are so long? I was very happy when Friday came and I could go home to my doggies. Saturday was pretty busy all day, and I picked up Trevor after his ball game. We went to see UP, the new Pixar movie. What a sweet story. But, the main reason that Trevor was coming over was that we were taking Tiger to the Dog Day Festival on Sunday. Tiger (with Trevor's help) came in 3rd place in the Ice Cream eating contest. Check out the picture of him sporting his bronze medal.

And the last thing....My friend Marianne always posts pictures of the food she makes, so I thought I'd share one with her. On vacation, I learned how to make spinach. I've never really cooked spinach much in my life, but I've made these little spinach, cheese, and tomato pita bread pizzas a few times now. They are pretty amazing.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Summer Nights...

I love the summer nights of daylight savings time. Actually, I'm not sure if it is the daylight savings time, or the fact that last year I invested in some deck furniture, but I love sitting on my deck in the evenings. I get a big glass of iced tea and the doggies and I head out. About 8:30 or so, the shade comes across my yard and the sky turns a beautiful light blue, the kind where it looks like the airplanes are scraping its surface. They are so far away, but I can still see them.

Sometimes I look at the stars, sometimes I count the airplanes, sometimes I just sit and enjoy the sounds of the neighborhood. Kids playing, birds singing, people talking and laughing in their backyards. It is going to be a great summer.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Race Fan? Maybe....

Trevor and I went to the track yesterday, the third day of qualifications for the Indianapolis 500. Even though it rained for a bit and we had to wait through the long track drying process, we had a great day. A lot of cool things always happen with me and Trevor together, and yesterday was no different. Just by being in the right place at the right time, Trevor was given a souvenir that came off of Marco Andretti's car by one of the track fire/safety guys.

Earlier this week when I was talking about yesterday's trip, I said "I'm not a race fan either" or something to that effect. I'm sure the person thought that I was crazy or something. I mean, I do know about racing. I go to the track a couple of times a year, maybe 4 times a year if you count the Speedrome. I know driver's names and I do root for John Andretti, but that is mainly because he is about my age and from Brownsburg, and one of my sister-in-law's students from Ritter High School. And he is an underdog.

But, I don't consider myself a race fan. I am not really fanatic about much. If racing is on the TV at home, most likely Trevor is there. If I am at a race track, Trevor is with me. He likes it, and actually it is good for him to learn about racing. This weekend we talked about how special the Indianapolis 500 is compared to other races, the differences between open wheel cars and stock cars, differences in tires (rain tires vs. regular tires), differences in how the cars are built and how it impacts speed, and lap speed averages. All things very interesting to me and my favorite 8 year old, whether or not I'm a race fan.

I am a fan of the competition. I am a fan of Indianapolis and the extremely cool events we have here. I am a fan of Hoosier Hospitality. I am a fan of the underdog.

John Andretti qualified on Sunday, 10 minutes before the track closed.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Pictures Are In

In a cabin, in the woods....

This was our little cabin in the woods. Very nice. Ratatouille lived there with us for the week. He liked Fig Newtons. Notice the fire on the grill, I was getting ready to cook up some dinner.

So, if you wanted a picture of me on vacation, this is it. This is pretty much what we got for our day at Shenandoah National Park. This is taken at the Big Meadows Visitor Center. We drove a little further north to the Skyland Visitor Center and had our lunch there, but the drive was not fun. This picture was taken around 11:00 in the morning. It really didn't get any better throughout the day.

This was about the best picture I got in the park. It was funny as we were leaving on Friday and the weather was finally clear, we looked out and said, "Hey, there are mountains over there". We hadn't been able to see them all week.

This is the Manor House at the Shenandoah Crossing Resort. You can rent it, or any number of cabins, hotel rooms, yurts, etc. at the resort. The Manor House has a private pool, and I had read on the Internet that it was haunted. So, one day while we were in the lodge, I asked our waitress about it. She said, "Well, yeah, I've heard about things that have happened, but I've never been in there myself." Hmmm.....

Shenandoah Crossing is in the middle of Virginia horse country. So, they have a huge stable and riding trails all around. This is just one of the pastures with the horses from the resort on our last day there. Notice the sun.

The Definition of a "Straight Up Peace Corps Quality Garden"

I'm home. We left Virginia on Friday morning after a nice breakfast at a local dive in Gordonsville. Friday, of course, turned out to be the sunny day of the week. All in all, it was a great week. Very relaxing. I'm thankful for the weather we had.

On Friday, we talked about what we'd be doing during the summer. Cindy would be at camp, I'd be working, and BJ would be gardening. As it turns out, the local residents in her area have been encouraged to plant gardens and donate what produce they don't personally use to local food banks and churches. Since she is in a rental home, BJ has started a garden with a friend at her home. This is no ordinary garden though. As BJ explained, "Y'all, I straight up dug a Peace Corps Quality garden", and she explained what that meant.

BJ and Cindy both were in the Peace Corps. Cindy was in Costa Rica in her 20s, and more recently in the Urkraine. BJ was in the Dominican Republic. I never was a Peace Corps volunteer, although I thought about it from time to time. I was just never that rustic. I mean, I worked at a camp. I can sleep outside. I can build fires with the best of them. But, whenever I did that, I always knew that a clean hotel room was no more than 12 days away.

So, BJ went on. I guess in your typical Peace Corps training, you have many training classes and workshops on gardening. BJ alleges that she was trained how to grow a garden in a shoe, but Cindy has no recollection of such a class. So, this Peace Corps quality garden is "triple-dug", where you remove 6 inches of soil and set it to the side, remove 6 more inches and set it to the other side, then you loosen the next six inches of dirt and mix in several inches of yard waste such as leaves, twigs, etc. Then you add back each layer of dirt so that you have a somewhat raised bed that is loose dirt 18 inches deep. I'm expecting some pictures of this garden at some point this summer.

So, on we drove north to New Jersey. And then today I got on a train to the airport, went through what seemed like an episode of the Amazing Race to catch an earlier flight home, picked up the doggies, and relaxed. I'm so glad to be home. But I need tomorrow to get back in the full swing of things.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

"We don't teach inner city kids to make knives out of rocks"

This week in Shenandoah has been rainy. And Foggy. And Wet. For those of you who wanted me to post a picture while I was away on vacation, I do have one of me in the Shenandoah National Park on Tuesday. Tuesday was supposed to be the "best" weather day. As it turn out, we've had a little sun today, but another thunderstorm is rolling in and we're just hanging out.

It has been a nice relaxing week. Playing cards with the "Axis of Evil" terrorist playing cards, watching Dirty Dancing, and generally belting out old tunes like "King of the Road". We have swam every day, which was on my list of things to do, cooked out in the rain, built a fire, and read. Not too many naps, but I seem pretty rested anyway.

And, we have laughed a lot. Today Cindy told a story about BJ, which is how I got the title to this post. A first experience at the Fresh Air Fund was an interesting one for BJ as the "Nature Lady". Although the campers enjoyed her classes, her lesson plans had to change quickly.

This is just a warning to all of you. Someone is going to have to look out for me as I get older or I may have to be institutionalized. If I am belting out a song from the 70's, making owl calls or other weird noises, and laughing at my own jokes....I am normal. Please don't let them put me away.

Cuyuga, Namolockem, and Cedar Rocks

For a few days now, the camp trivia quiz masters have been stumped on the question, "What were the campsteads of Overlook Village?" Well, none of us worked with the babies, so no one could remember. Last night we even tried to "phone a friend" and googled every name we could remember from camp. We finally reached the former camp director by email and got our answer (the title of this post) this morning.

We've also decided to research how many former counselors from Camp ABC decided not to have any of their own kids. Freaky coincidence or were those campers just some sort of permanent birth control?

Monday, May 4, 2009


I am on vacation, but unlike other times when I am away, I'm feeling a need to write. Not so much that I need to tell you anything, but so I don't forget the things that have already happened. I'm on a reunion vacation sort of. About 25 years ago, my friends Cindy, Ann Marie, and I started working for the Fresh Air Fund. And while I see Cindy every year, for some reason this year, probably because it is a milestone year, feels different. And being in a cabin in the middle of nowhere instead of say, the Flamingo Hilton in Las Vegas, helps a little too.

I flew into New Jersey, and I hadn't been to New Jersey in 4 years. I almost forgot what it was like. Take that back, I did forget. As you fly into the Newark-Liberty Airport, you can see the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty in the distance. Looking out the window, I thought, there it is....crowded, busy, dirty...not so sure I want to go there.

Having just left the beautiful new Indianapolis Airport, I was surprised when I got off the plane, and it wasn't the same. Not that it wasn't the same as the Indianapolis Airport, but it wasn't what I had remembered either. I had remembered the EWR being similar to the new Indy airport, lots of windows, white floors, wide aisles. I must have been in a different terminal. I walked down the blue carpeted hallway where we pretty much had to walk single file. The other part of the hallway was taken over by security with cameras and scanners and people in sock feet. Downstairs to baggage claim, and then it all came back. I had been here before. It had changed a little, I think there are less Continental baggage carousels now, but that hint of urine smell in the air means it is definitely the Newark Airport.

My plane was wicked early (since I'm doing a flashback to my twenties, why not throw in a Boston word) and I called my friend Susan who was picking me up from the airport. They were still about 20 minutes or so away, but we worked out a meeting place at curbside, and I looked around a little. I looked at the airport seating and wondered when the last time it had been wiped off with a lysol wipe or anything like it, and decided standing was a better option. Maybe still wondering how I did this so much in my youth.

I remembered the episode where I was stuck at the New Jersey airport and a little terrified. Even then, I was the Lucky Girl, because somehow with $100 cash in my pocket and a call to my brother, I got out of a scary situation and back to Indianapolis. People's Express was the cheap airline of the 80's with a hub in Newark. I had heard they were going out of business and canceling flights left and right, but I still headed to the airport alone trying to get home. I was told my flight was canceled and that there were no other flights until the next day. The thought of having to spend the night at this airport was not good. I had no credit card, ATMs did not exist, it was me, all my bags from a summer at camp, and my $100, and that was it. My brother worked some sort of magic and got me on a flight through Dulles to Indy. I can imagine the conversation with the airline people that he had, but I am sure that the airline people wanted to get me out of Newark too. Terminal D was infamous. Poof, I am on my way out, and other people who were stuck were in disbelief.

I stepped outside to the curb. And then it hit me. That smell of exhaust in the air. Horns were honking, a taxi stand in front of me, people talking and yelling and schlepping bags everywhere. Ah, yes, I remember. I looked to the left and recognized the area where I used to catch the bus to the city from this airport. Oh yeah, I do remember. Yankee Stadium, Lincoln Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral, the Poet's walk in Central Park, the subway, Canal Jeans, Little Italy at Christmastime. All of that is worth a little crowd and some dirt. Maybe I do want to go back.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Difference between Cushing's Disease and Addison's Disease... big. But they are related in that they both are related to the amount of cortisol that is produced by the body, or in the case that I am most familiar with, the body of my sweet little dog Sadie.

Sadie was diagnosed with Cushing's Disease a few months ago. After several tests over the course of nearly 4 months, the confirmed diagnosis said that she had Cushing's. When we were to begin treatment in March, Sadie came down with a bladder infection, and then she got Kennel Cough, and finally she was well and we could begin therapy a week ago.

The standard therapy is to do what is called a "loading dose" of the medication Lysodrene, look for changes in Sadie's symptoms, do a test to see if her cortisol is at the correct level, and then put her on a maintenance dose. The trick is the directions on the Lysodrene are pretty scary. Lysodrene is considered a chemotherapy tablet, so it is attacking parts of Sadie's body as it works.

Sadie started Lysodrene last Tuesday and her behavior changed (i.e., she slept through the night) on Friday night. On Saturday she went into Noah's for her ACHT test to see if she was at the correct level of cortisol. We stopped the medicine at that point, and we were waiting for the results. Only thing is, Sadie went into "crisis" (as defined by the directions I was given by Noah's) on Sunday. I called into Noah's on Sunday evening and they directed me to start Prednisone therapy for Sadie to bring her out of crisis.

Sadie still had the symptoms of the Lysodrene overdose ("crisis") on Monday evening, so I took her into Noah's they did another blood test, and we're continuing the Prednisone therapy for the next 10 days.

But this is the weird part about the Cushing's/Addison's connection. So, the Dr. explained that Sadie probably only overdosed by about one dose, but now has really no cortisol at all (her level is .2 and is supposed to be anywhere from 1 to 4). I guess the way this works is that the overdose may have killed off part of Sadie's pituitary gland which has resulted in an Addison's like state. Hence the treatment of Prednisone to bring the cortisol to a more normal level.

So, it gets even stranger...the Dr. said there were three possibilities that could result from this overdose: 1.) Sadie's pituitary gland has been damaged by the Lysdorene and will never produce enough cortisol for her in the future, and Sadie will now be diagnosed with Addison's Disease instead of Cushings; 2.) After the Prednisone therapy, Sadie will go back to her "normal" state of Cushing's and her levels of cortisol will be elevated. At that point she will be able to go on the maintenance dose of Lysodrene; or, 3.) And this is the weird one...the Lysodrene has killed off the perfect amount of Sadie's overactive pituitary gland and after the Prednisone therapy, she will be a normal dog, no Cushing's, no Addison's.

The Dr. went on to explain that some "old School" vets do the overdose on purpose to kill off the pituitary gland and treat the Addison's Disease because it is easier to treat and control. I'm just amazed that what could have been a mistake, may be something that actually means she may not need medication in the future. I expect that is a big long shot, but who else could it happen to other than the Lucky Girl and the Lucky Dog.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Mutt Strut, Feeding of the Bears, and a new home for Blossom

Today, Trevor, Tiger and I participated in the Indianapolis Mutt Strut at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. What a beautiful day! And so many dogs. This is a very cool event, I only wish we had more time to spend at the track. Tiger was exhausted when we got home and is still napping in his chair. There were 2 courses to walk, a short course and a the whole track. We did not have time to make it around the whole track because we had another activity this afternoon as well. All in all, we raised $320 for the Humane Society of Indianapolis, and got some very cool pictures.

After strutting, we had to take Tiger home for his nap and then Trev and I headed over to the Indianapolis Zoo, where my sister had set up a "behind the scenes" tour of the bear exhibit. We were able to see what the bear enclosure looks like in the back area, where the keepers have their offices, and where the "indoor" areas are. The area where we were able to stand was very small. They had a yellow line painted on the floor and all visitors had to stay behind that line. One of the keepers explained that one of the bears used to "charge" the fences, but didn't do that anymore. What was amazing to see up close was the feet and paws of the bears. The bears will continue to grow to be somewhere near 1000 pounds.

The last activity of the day was one I don't have a picture for, but I really wish that I did. I have been volunteering for Kentuckiana Boxer Rescue, and we were able to find a home for Blossom the Boxer today. Blossom is a beautiful girl who was at a shelter but has now found a home in Avon. She is a sweetie that gives the Boxer kisses that I remember from my dogs Cali and Rocky. For some reason, Tiger and Sadie are not that kissy. Some would say that is an advantage, but it is good to be reminded about those boxer kisses every once in a while.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Lawn Care Season

I'm so happy that the weather has changed. I'm ready to plant things and this weekend there is some mulch that will be distributed amongst the shrubbery along the front of my house. I think it is too early to plant, but the beds can be prepped so that they'll be ready when the Mother's Day planting comes around.

Sometime late last year my neighbor hired a lawn guy to cut his lawn and trim the weeds weekly. By that time I think it was August and I was tired, so I hired the same guy to do the "public" area of my lawn. I'm on my own in the doggie's yard. I know it seems like a weird set-up, but with the way I have my gates secured, that is just how it has to work. So every week, the "Lawn Mower Man" visits and for $20 does the front and alley grass and the weed trimming. Pretty good deal.

The Lawn Mower Man has been a great stress reliever. I always worried about how my yard looked to my neighbors. On my own, I did what I had to do in the time that I had to do it. Which means some weeks a weed trimmer was used, and others it was not. Also, depending upon the time of year, my allergies would kick in and it would take me forever to get everything done. Now, I can do the back yard pretty quickly without breaking out. I also don't have to worry about what the neighbor's think if I'm a little late getting it done.

The thing is, I talked to a friend at work once who said "You shouldn't waste your time doing the things that you really don't enjoy doing." And while that seems like easy enough to say, it is a wonderful thing that the $20 a week has done for me. I still work in the yard some, but last year I focused more on the flowers and they actually looked decent. In years past, I spent so much time on the grass and trim work that I was not worried about flower beds at all. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed planting flowers and taking care of them. This year, I plan to plant more. I also plan to take more bike rides and swim more.

So, the funny thing is, I have let the doggie's yard go too long this spring. It hasn't had it's first cut and tomorrow will be the third cut on the front yard. So, today, being the loser that I am for not keeping up with the grass, I had to take the weed trimmer and take the top off of the grass so that I can think about running the lawn mower over it tomorrow. For a lawn cut with a weed trimmer, it doesn't look all that bad, but it is definitely not good either. We'll see if this technique works.

Monday, April 20, 2009

I am Tiger Woods

I hit a real golf ball with a real golf club today for the first time in my life. For my first non-mini-golfing experience, I actually did okay. My friend who is a pretty good golfer (he has hit a hole in one!) took me to a driving range and told me how to hold the club and where to stand and coached me through it.

My big fear was that I would keep swinging and totally miss the ball every time. During the session I totally missed the ball less than 10 times. So for a first day, I count it as a win. Now, much like my softball swing, I tend to pull the ball and hit straight down the third base line no matter where I think I'm aiming. That would be the frustrating part if I was on a real golf course.

I'm ready for another trip to the Golf Dome.

Ahhhhhh.......Memory Foam

Remember last October when I wrote about the two things I needed to make me happy? So, the coffee machine was obviously covered, but the Memory Foam took a while longer. For a little over a week now, I've been sleeping on the most comfortable bed. My bed without memory foam is comfortable, but with the memory foam is out of this world. It enables me to sleep on my back without any pain.

I'm pretty sure Tiger likes it too. Above he's giving me his "But I don't want to get up" face.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Florida Vacation

We got back from Florida 2 weeks ago. It seems so long ago, even though at times I still feel like I am driving through Alabama. It was a really good vacation. Actually, my kind of vacation where you swim everyday, eat well, do some activities, but also get lots of rest.

The week we were in Panama City was sort of on the rainy side. All days but one were "double red flag" days, meaning the waves were so rough we couldn't get in the water. It also was raining a couple of days. Luckily, the place we were staying had an indoor pool.

One of the exciting activities was going on a boat ride on The SeaScreamer! It was a great boat, that holds nearly 100 people and takes cruises out in the Gulf along the Panama City Beach shoreline. The greatest thing was that we pretty much had a private cruise. The seven of us were joined by one other family of 3 (from Houghton Lake, Michigan). We saw so many dolphins! And Trevor and Halie got to drive the boat.

It was a great week.

The day we went on the boat was a "double red flag" day. The waves were really rough. The SeaScreamer feels like it is going really, really, fast. This is Trevor holding on tight at the front of the boat, keeping an eye out for dolphins.

You may not be able to see them, but there are 6 Dolphins in this picture. Try to click on it to make it bigger.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

My Boy is a Star!

Never say never, BUT I really doubt you'll see me on You Tube anytime soon. But not my boy Tiger!!

Thanks to the good people at The Lucky Dog Retreat, Tiger is a You Tube star in this video, along with his friend Riley. Tiger is known as the "King of the Puppies" at Lucky Dog, because he plays with the little ones so well.

I'm so proud!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Return of The Lucky Girl

I checked the date of my last post, and it seems like it has been longer since I posted. Some stuff has been going on, but mainly I think I just needed to unplug for a while. And now I definitely have updates to share, so here we go...

One of the things that started my "unplugging" was a need to be a little more focused on just me. I went in for my yearly check up in February and there was some blood work numbers that were off and had the doctor a little concerned. And so, I have had some need to focus on that, and I also had a pretty big project going at work.

Some of you know that I have been on thyroid medication for about 9 years, and maybe some of you don't. I have low thyroid, which ties directly into my energy level. There are times that I used to feel so sluggish that I would say, "I think I have been drugged". You know, that kind of feeling where you almost can't keep your head up. I haven't actually felt that way in a while, but my doctor wondered if I had any energy at all based upon the blood work numbers that he was seeing.

Before I go any further, everything is okay. The doctor did change my medicine and I've been trying to watch what I eat, making sure to get enough fruits and vegetables. I also haven't missed a dose of medicine, which is really good for me. I actually do feel better, and the blood work numbers are now back in range. So, I will keep at it, and more blood tests come next month. I think that the doc is just going to monitor everything for a while.

And so, there is more to catch up on, but I'm going to hold for now. A vacation update will be posted this week for sure, so catch you later.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Language of "I Can't"

I had a surprise today when I went to the elementary school near where I work for my normal Thursday morning tutoring session. We wouldn't be doing our one on one tutoring, but rather they had a special activity planned for all the 4th and 5th graders called "Soaring Words". In this activity, the students were to invent superheroes, write a story, and illustrate it for children in the local children's hospital.

I worked with 4 students today, 3 boys and 1 girl. Two of the students (the girl and one of the boys) were my regular students who I tutor in reading. The boys were more into the activity that the girl. I've been trying to blame it on the "superheroes" theme, but I'm not sure I can really do that. The girl, a 4th grader, my star student, would not do the assignment. She kept saying "I can't draw", "I don't know how to do this", "I'm not good at writing stories", etc. Where did that come from?

I remember when I was in the third grade, I was so nervous about an assignment that I wrote in the tiniest printing possible. I think the teacher needed a magnifying glass to see it. I was embarrassed. I didn't want to be wrong and somehow I thought if I wrote so small that no one could read it then it it would be all right. It wasn't. But along the way, I got encouragement. I started taking chances (even though it made me nervous).

How do we replace "I can't" in the language of young people with "I want to learn to" or "I'm going to try my best to"?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Several Weeks Later...

I haven't blogged in a while. It isn't that I haven't thought of this blog and what I have left behind, but some things have been going on, and that is just the way it goes sometimes. So, what have I been up to lately? Here is the update...

1. Remember the Meat Overload entry? Well, I had a repeat trip to Fogo with my friend Scott. I think that I may have been sick for 2 days after that. I had thought about that meal for a while and what it would be like to go back, but it just didn't go as planned. I have received some coaching if I ever go again, which is that you must get the papaya yogurt for desert. Something about the yogurt breaks down the meat and makes the digestion process go easier. I just don't know if I'll get a chance to try that out.

2. I went to the doctor for my yearly check-up. There were some wacky results on my blood tests. Since then, I've not been eating desserts or drinking soda. I also am cutting out the "real" eggs in favor of the egg-beater type egg for a while to see if it has impact. I don't really eat eggs all that often anyway. I have to check some things in a few weeks and hopefully they will all be back to normal. My cholesterol, while not technically high is out of whack between the goods and bads. I'd have to get the results out again to really look at it and figure out which is the bad number. Anyway, I'm sure the Meat Overload just a few days before the blood test didn't help either. I'm paying attention to everything and writing it all down. Hopefully, I'll have some good data for the doc when I go back in (I even have a spreadsheet!).

3. Sadie has been struggling with Cushing's Disease and other things. She isn't done with her testing yet, but has had some issues that prevent us from continuing the tests. She spent 2 nights at the vet last week. She's home now and okay and on a stronger antibiotic.

4. Okay, so all of you out there on Facebook and MySpace...yes, you. All you proud Facebook users who keep inviting me. No, I'm not going to be on Facebook, BUT...Trevor did convice me to get a Webkinz. That is right, I have a Webkinz. Trevor and I can now play games like "Go Fish" and "Connect Four" online. It is actually kind of cool. But, I still don't think I want to participate in the grown-up versions of Webkinz (Facebook and MySpace).

5. And last but not least, I won a jackpot at a casino! My Mom and I went to a casino the other day to join a friend and her mother. We had about 30 minutes to kill before we were to meet for lunch and on the third pull on a 1 cent slot machine, I hit the big jackpot for $1000. I had never hit the big jackpot in my life before. It was pretty cool.

So, that is my story. I'm home today doing laundry. Hanging out with the doggies. Having a pretty good weekend. My plan is to get back to blogging, but I may lay low for a few more weeks. Spring break is coming up and I'll be in Florida with my family. I'm sure I'll have some tales to tell when we get back.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Flat Stanley goes to Indiana

My cousin Pam's son Justin (does that make him my 2nd cousin?) had a school project that he enlisted our help in. Justin is in the third grade, and his class recently read the story of Flat Stanley.

Stanley was a regular boy until his bulletin board fell on him and then he became flat. Flat Stanley's wanted to go for a visit with his relatives, so his parents mailed him to California. Justin's class all made their own "Flat Stanleys" and sent them to friends or relatives (in this case my Mom). The friends and relatives had to take care of Stanley for a month and write a letter about all the things he was able to do on his trip. Justin's class specifically requested some information and stories about where we live because the teacher is using these stories to teach about different communities.

Flat Stanley had a pretty good time with us in the last month. He got to go to the Great Wolf Lodge and to the French Lick hotel. He went to the Indianapolis Zoo and spent time with my Mom and her card club. Today, I finished up Flat Stanley's story and I'll send him back through the mail on Monday. All of the kids in Justin's class will read their stories to the class during the first week of March.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I miss the Gilmore Girls

The Gilmore Girls was my favorite TV show. I happened upon the Gilmore Girls one summer during Season 5 when it seemed I didn't have anything better to do on Tuesday nights. The WB happened to be showing 2 episodes per Tuesday that summer and something happened and I was hooked. That fast talking, how many words can you get in an episode, back and forth between the characters was new and exciting.

So exciting, in fact, that I purchased the Gilmore Girls DVDs for Seasons 1 - 6. I know. I'm 44 years old and buying TV that was originally shown on the WB. So, when Season 7 rolled around, and the new writers were involved, it wasn't quite the same, but yet it was still Stars Hollow growing a little older. I had always been convinced that I didn't see all the episodes in Season 7, so I have netflixed it and started watching tonight. I can't figure out if I came across an episode that I hadn't seen, or if the new writers were so un-Gilmore like that it was unmemorable.

Sometimes there are characters in books that I read that I like so much that I don't want to let them go. I slow down at the end of the book because I know that the characters will end on the last page and I want to prolong their lives. Maybe that is why I'm sometimes drawn to books in a series like the Sue Grafton mysteries. Kinsey Milhone will always be around to solve another crime, at least until Z comes around.

I wonder what has happened to Lorelei and Rory. Sometimes I think of Rory during President Obama's press conferences. Maybe she is sitting in the middle of the room behind Helen Thomas and Chuck Todd. And maybe she was there to offer him that stick of gum just when he needed it.

How Much Can you do in a President's Day Weekend?

Well, let me tell you a lot. Certainly enough that on 4 nights in a row, my 8 year-old nephew announced "I am going to sleep now" before 9:00 p.m. I consider that to be quite an accomplishment.

My brother and sister-in-law went out of town for Valentine's weekend, so I got to be with my valentine Trevor. I picked him up on Friday, right after school. Friday night was kind of uneventful, we just did the regular stuff...walk dogs, play outside (not regular for February, but it was warm!), dinner, watch "Space Buddies", and then off to bed.

Saturday, however, was a different story. I don't usually wake Trevor up when he is at my house. I usually let him sleep in while I attempt to do my normal weekend chores (laundry, dishes, and napping). This Saturday we had scheduled an early visit to the zoo with my friend Scott, so I had to wake Trevor up. But he is always happy to get up for Scott! To read about our trip to the zoo, complete with pictures, go here. We had a great time, and the zoo was very quiet in the morning. We also got to see lots of zoo staff feeding and caring for the animals.

Then of course, we went to Steak and Shake.

After lunch, Scott dropped us off and we took care of the doggies. We played with them for a while and took them on a walk. Then, they were off to the kennel for a couple of nights because we were headed to French Lick on Sunday morning.

On Sunday we were to pick up a friend at 9:30 a.m. and my Mom at 10:00 a.m. for a trip to French Lick. But first, Trevor and I decided we would go see the Boxer show at the Indy Winter Classic Dog Show that started at 8:00 a.m. With much enthusiasm, we left the house at 7:30 a.m. and headed for the fairgrounds. The dog show was interesting. I think Trevor enjoyed it too. It was interesting to see all the Boxers and their different markings and other characteristics. We could definitely tell how some dogs were related to one another. We stayed for about an hour, which got us through all the male dogs. Next year, we'll have to go again and plan on seeing the whole show.

Off to French Lick. Here we stayed busy at the pool, playing games, watching the Daytona 500, and just walking around the hotel. They have some pretty cool shops to browse around in. I know I had thought at some point about sitting in one of the beautiful lobbies and reading, but I don't think we slowed down enough to do that during the trip.

By the time I dropped everyone off, picked up the doggies and headed home it was about 7:30 p.m. on Monday night. Just enough time to get settled back in before my guests arrived at 9:00. I am a very lucky girl.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Weekend Adventure and Recovery Zone

Yes, I did have that weekend adventure. And it turned out to be an adventure that I desperately needed.

Last week was an adventure all its own with a foot of snow here in the Hoosier State. On top of that, it was audit week at work, which equals long days with lunch usually coming out of a vending machine. When I used to work at a college, all of my co-workers would talk about how bad orientation week was for everyone working. I want to make sure that all of you know that every job has its orientation week. Accountants have tax season, retail has the holidays, and pharma companies have regulatory agency visits. None of them are fun, but if you do well and keep it together, things can be great when they are over.

So after working several long days last week, it seemed like I would get home and always have to shovel. I don't know how that worked out, but that is what happened. In the mix of it all, I aggravated an old knee injury (from the dark ages of 1987) and on Friday (luckily after the audit was over) my knee popped and it was out. I'm glad I had a Target shopping cart in hand when it happened. I hobbled around Friday night and tried to take the best care of it that I could. Aleve, ice packs, etc. But we had a family trip planned for the weekend, so I had to get it together.

Remember the work picnic when I won the great prize! That is right, we were headed to the Great Wolf Lodge this weekend. And, actually, I really needed it after the week I had. So, I packed up my cute little overnight bag that I got for Christmas (thanks Diane!) and got some rest.

I did feel better on Saturday morning, but it still took me awhile to get around. I was running about a half hour late to drop off doggies, pick up Mom, and then pick up Trevor and his parents. And then off to Ohio. The Lodge was actually great, terribly crowded, but great. I spent the majority of my water park time in the wave pool and the lazy river. I had to meet with an Athletic Trainer at work on Monday and he confirmed that spending time in the water was the best thing that I could have done over the weekend. So, I'm very glad I went. My knee felt great after I got home.

The coolest thing about the Lodge was that we stayed in what was called a "Kid Cabin" suite. The room has an area that looks like a cabin with 3 twin beds where Trevor, my Mom, and I slept. The other area of the room had a queen bed and a pull out couch. After dropping everyone off at home, I got home around 8 on Sunday. I had some dinner and headed to bed, missing the last play of the Super Bowl.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take my camera. But maybe I'll get some pictures to post from my Mom. I'd love to figure out if there was a season when they weren't so busy.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Obamicon

I got this link to create "Obamicons" from my friend Scott's blog. This morning, I was playing with it a little as the doggies nap after their breakfast. I'm headed off for adventure today, and maybe I'm a little too excited to sleep. Will fill you in on all that later.

For now, my Obamicons:

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Lucky Dog at The Lucky Dog Retreat

Yesterday, Tiger went to a doggie play group at The Lucky Dog Retreat. It was his first full day of daycare at this very cool place for very lucky dogs. Last week, he had a 2 hour "try out" to see if he was well-suited for the play group, and he passed with flying colors. He loved it, and all the folks there seemed to love him too.

I wanted Tiger to go on a relatively slow day for his first day, so I signed him up for a Saturday. Starting this Tuesday he will go every Tuesday unless I am out of town. You can catch him on their webcam here. They have a huge play room with a lot of kid toys, the big plastic kind that look like they were made by PlaySkool. I saw Tiger on the red steps when I checked in on him yesterday. At this place, they play all morning in the big playroom, then take a break for lunch and a nap. Then it is back to the playroom until I pick him up.

I was motivated to sign Tiger up for this due to the recent cold. It has been so cold lately that we haven't been able to go to our regular play place, the Broad Ripple Dog Park. Tiger doesn't like to be out in the cold too much. He tolerates it for a little bit because he wants the exercise, but he doesn't really like it. And, I don't think he would tolerate the sweater I have for him.

But now, my Tiger is sleeping. Playing all day has worn out my puppy. (That is the point of going.) So, it will be a lazy dog Sunday around here. I watched a movie and I'm doing laundry. Tiger has been watching it snow, "through his eye lids" as my Mom would say.

The Twitter Experiment

For the last couple of weeks or so, I have been using Twitter. I have had an account for a long time, but this last week was the first time I actually made my Twitter page my home page and it sort of "forced" me to update at least once a day. (Sometimes I still didn't update, because I think I'm pretty boring). But really, I realize that I only have 2 real followers, and one of them doesn't seem to have logged in for months. So...really, I have one person who reads my updates. Not really a following.

Twitter is sort of like instant messaging to the world. You have 140 characters to answer the question "What are you doing now?". And you answer it over and over as "tweets" to your followers. A lot of people use twitter as marketing, so sometimes twitter seems like spam that you have willingly signed up for. I learned this by signing up to follow the wrong people. They have since been blocked.

On Tuesday night after the inauguration, FoxNews reported on Barack Obama's tweets using Twitter. They reported incorrectly, but nonetheless, Twitter is becoming more popular. It is fun to follow some people like Greg Grunberg of Heroes. But, my twitter experiment is over. I may update Twitter on occasion, but really my Tweets have just become a conversation between me and my friend Scott. And really, I should just pick up the phone if I want to talk to Scott.

And really, who cares that I spent Friday night doing my taxes? Or should I even admit that on a live feed going out to the world?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Best Brownies

I'm baking brownies right now. They smell really good. My nephew Josh and his wife Allie are home from California for the week and today is "hang out Saturday" at my brother's house. Sort of an open house for all of their friends. My sister-in-law is making food and she asked if I would bring brownies.

Brownies are a standby for me if I need to take sweets to an office party or someone's house. Everyone always loves my brownies. They always ask for the recipe, but I never really tell what it is that I do. Even my Mom has asked me for my recipe. Today, it will be revealed right here on the blog.

First, I go to the store and buy the absolute cheapest plain brownie mix I can find. Lately, I have been using the Marsh "Food Club" version. And next, and this is the important part....I follow the package instructions. Can you believe it? Yes folks, that is the big brownie secret. Now, my pan is over size, so I actually use 3 boxes of brownie mix, so that may make my brownies a little thicker. I also believe that my pan is magic, because everything made in that pan tastes good.

Sometimes I use embellishments for the brownies on top. Today I am using the mini-M and M's. But the topping really has nothing to do with the baking of the brownie.

So, that is it.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Meat Overload

This past Friday, I did the very vacationy activity of going to Fogo de Chao for lunch. Fogo is a Brazilian steakhouse that is a meat lover's paradise. One of those places that you really can't discuss with your vegetarian friends.

Fogo is an all you can eat grilled meat steakhouse, where men in gaucho pants come to your table and offer you servings of 15 different grilled and seasoned meats from the skewers that they carry with them. But then, this is the ironic thing. It is not the meat that I am now obsessing over, it is the salad bar and the polenta. The salad bar is huge and has what seem to be the freshest veggies ever. Really good tomatoes for January. Also, they have all sorts of cheeses. Fresh Mozzarella, some very good aged cheeses that I tried. Very good. And the polenta! was great! It reminded me of what my Mom used to make. She hasn't made it in years, but I'm almost inspired to get her to coach me on how to make it so that I can do it at home. The mashed potatoes were also very good and the rolls were fabulous.

And the meat was good. I tried some different things that I had not tried before (lamb), but my favorite was the pork rib. I also ate several different cuts of beef, and I don't ordinarily eat beef. One time when I was having a "vacation" meal in Vegas I decided to have the steak and ended up being sick for the next couple of days because my body couldn't really digest it. I have not had the same experience this time. It is definitely better prepared. It seems to be a lot better quality.

And so it goes. I noticed there were others in the restaurant who were there when we arrived and still grazing as we left. We decided they were probably experienced and knew how to pace themselves in an all you can eat meat place. While it was good, I don't think I will ever become that experienced.