Sunday, January 27, 2008

Silly Quiz #1

This is quite possibly the funniest thing I have ever heard! But I like it...

You Are a Flawless Beauty!

When it comes to beauty, you spare no expense - and it shows

You're the kind of woman a man would launch a thousand ships for

It's hard for anyone to beat you in the beauty department

But remember, it's okay to show a flaw or too - you've got plenty to spare

Like the Wind

After nearly 10 years, two children, two surgeries, and numerous injuries, I have finally gotten back on my bike! Once upon a time I used to do those organized rides, like the Hotter 'n Hell, riding 25 or 50 miles. I was never all that competitive, riding for fun only, but it was part of my identity for several years. But like many things, once I stopped doing it regularly I found it difficult to get started again.

Today the weather was perfect for a ride. I chose to do this thing for myself instead of attending an open house at church. I am not sorry. I didn't get the work out I hoped for because the girls were having a hard time keeping up with me and street traffic makes me nervous. But once we got to the trails at the park things moved along better. I even had one good opportunity to tuck and fly downhill. Terrific!

I am checking into local rides for the girls and us. The registration fees always go to some worthy cause, the scenery is great, and everyone gets a t-shirt and water bottle. What more could a girl ask for?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Things I've Learned about Myself That I Am Reluctant to Admit

I read strictly for entertainment. Don't care to waste my time reading stuff that is going to keep me up at night.

I also happen to be the world's slowest reader. I am easily distracted. I often have to read the same sentence more than once. I've heard they make medication for this...

I love technology, would love to have a million gadgets, although I would need a remedial course to learn to use them.

I could never have an eating disorder. Food is pleasure.

I could never be a vegetarian. I have lost 10 lbs since the first of the year, and I miss hamburgers most.

I actually do expect people to treat me the way I treat them. I'm always shocked and sad if they don't.

I am unreasonably attached to my hair. It is very traumatic to me to get a bad haircut or to have too much cut off at the salon.

I am a hopeless romantic. I happen to believe in love and in love at first sight.

I am old-fashioned. I WANT to be a liberated woman, I really do, but I also want to be taken care of and spoiled and protected.

Turns out I am not invincible.

I care what people think of me. It matters to me. It really does.

I am always disappointed when I meet someone that has somehow failed to learn the social graces.

I am a shameless Texan. My heart beats faster the closer I get to the capitol.

I have trust issues - perhaps more so with myself than with others.

I am a cheap skate.

I am a simple person. I have deep thoughts, but I find no advantage in using too many words to express them.

If I can't understand the lyrics to a song, I get highly agitated. Why have lyrics if no one can understand them? There, I said it. And I'm not sorry.

My instincts happen to be very good, but I often ignore them. I have no explanation for this.

I am flattered when boys look my way. I said "look." No touching. No commenting. Just looking.

What sort of things have you discovered about yourself that you might be reluctant to admit?

Thank You

I have always been a little behind the times. I started attending church at age 11, taking myself on my bicycle, and I was baptized years after my peers had taken the plunge (no pun intended). I don't follow fashion, I let fashion catch me. At 45 years of age, I have finally learned how to do my hair. I learned about computers long after they had hit the scene, and I only did so, kicking and screaming, because my job required it.

So it is with this blogging business. While friends were on MySpace and entering chat rooms, I was just falling in love with email. Okay, okay, so I'm a little slow. BB casually mentioned that he blogs one day, so I went to see what wisdom he was sharing with the rest of the world. And then I visited every one of the blogs he has listed in his "links." And then I visited the blogs his friends had listed. I was fascinated, and discovered a few that really blew me away.

After going to the optometrist to correct my newly ruined vision, I rolled up my sleeves and dove right into blogging. I was scared! What was the best approach? Who would read it? What would they think of me? Would I somehow inadvertently make myself the target of a terrorist plot?

I've made lots of typographical errors, learned how not to upload photos and videos, and rambled incessantly at times. I've posted some really dumb stuff. I've ranted and vented. I've posted some funny stuff. And I may have even touched someone once or twice. And I have enjoyed every minute of it.

Here's the thing - blogging has been so therapeutic for me, such an effective way of processing my "stuff," that how many hits I get is no longer the most important thing. But... I really am glad that you read. And I really love to see your comments. And it tickles me to bits when new readers come along. So please keep reading, and thank you.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Just when you think things are going to settle down, the fates have a good chuckle and throw something else your way. One of my grad school professors passed away from a rare brain disorder recently. The funeral is tomorrow, and I plan to attend.

This particular prof and I found ourselves crossways more than once. He was a brilliant man who had this really annoying knack for recalling even the most obscure bit of trivia, and he took great pleasure in his ability to stump his students. He never pulled any punches, and as a result many of us left his classroom embarrassed or frustrated or even angry.

He was pretty tough on me, I must admit. Flat out insulted me once, although I don't think it was intentional. I made a few attempts to reach out to him and get to know him better, but never felt that I was successful.

It wasn't until I heard that he was ill (and I was forced to face my feelings about him) that I connected a few dots. My parents were always really tough on me. My band directors and voice coaches were absolute hell on me at times. Flying batons and shouted criticism were not unheard of. And so it was with Dr Spinks at times.

Days before my mother passed, she apologized for being so hard to please, explaining that she demanded the best from me because she knew I was capable of giving just that and that I didn't always live up to my own potential. Wow - a powerful thing to hear from someone you idolize.

I reckon it is true that if people don't care about you, they don't put forth the effort to help you improve.


Yesterday everyone in my agency attended a convocation. If yesterday was any indication, convocation translates to "really long day filled with informative albeit overwhelming training sessions for the purpose of helping us do our jobs better."

The event started with an adrenaline rush for me as I was asked to lead the invocation. More specifically, I was asked to sing a prayer to the ~200 attendees. I offered an a capella musical rendition of Prayer of St Francis. I believe it went well, and I hope my nerves didn't show too much. I would rather sing in front of 1,000 strangers than 10 of my peers.

The adrenaline rushed wore off as the day wore on.


I heard this on the radio this morning. I can say with absolute confidence that I sang better than this:

Monday, January 21, 2008

Logic and Muscle

Went to see the latest National Treasure movie on Friday. We never saw the first one because the girls were a little young for it. Gonna have to rent it, though, because the second one is great fun! And Mikel and I watched the first half of the miniseries Broken Trail. It was tough to sit through, but not without its merits. The second half should be coming from Netflix in a couple of days.

I did a bucket load of housework this weekend. Not by choice. I am not a very good wife in that regard. I would rather have a root canal than to cook or clean. But it had to be done. Because we were gone between Christmas and New Years, and Mikel has worked for the past three weekends, and I couldn't get the boxes down from the attic alone, our Christmas decorations were still up. I played the epiphany card as long as I could. Since we were both off work today, I took advantage of Mikel's muscle and everything is put away. I have my living room back!

Last night we went to the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. It has been years since I went to a rodeo, and the girls had never been. We had a terrific time! Toward the end of the evening, the Not-So-Little One turned to me to say, "Mommy, I know why girls only do the barrel racing and not the other stuff. Because girls are too smart to get on an animal on purpose that is just going to throw them off." Can't argue with that logic.

Made me think of BB who pays for people to punch and kick and maybe even thrown him on the floor at Krav Maga. Or Mikel, who used to gleefully abuse his body weekly on a motocross track. Or my dad, who got slammed and tackled on the high school football field. Or my older brother who got poked and stabbed and whacked in the fencing strip. Boys...

Saturday, January 19, 2008


The other day BB told me that he and his son have been discussing fear and disasters and bad guys. The kind of things that we all worry about. We agreed that at one point or another we have told our children that keeping them safe is our job, and that we take that job very seriously.

That got me to thinking about my girls. They have jobs, absolutely. And they take them very seriously, too.

It is my girls' jobs to change their likes in food at random, without warning, so that whatever they liked last week won't be consumed this week.

It is my girls' jobs to fight in public, especially a place where it is important to be quiet, so that I can't yell at them or smack them, which maximizes my embarrassment and frustration.

It is my girls' jobs to beg me to purchase an article of clothing so that they can take it home, hang it in the closet, and never wear it again, claiming that they don't like it or that it doesn't fit, even though it fit just fine in the dressing room.

It is my girls' jobs to bring home stray animals and make them into pets that I have to take care of.

It is my girls' jobs to use my expensive sewing scissors to cut paper, dulling the blades. And this job is only done properly if they do this without my knowledge so that I discover that the blades are dull just after I have satin fabric laid out for a project.

It is my girls' jobs to drip nail polish all over the dining table, preventing me from spending my hard earned money on a new one anytime soon.

It is my girls' jobs to leave rocks in their jeans pockets so that the dryer sounds like the Starship Enterprise breaking up upon reentry.

It is the Not-So-Little-One's job to sing as loudly and as off key as she can muster so that her musician mother suffers an aneurism.

It is the Little One's job to leave everything she owns right in front of her bedroom door so that her parents can practice their mad dance moves when the come in to wake her up in the morning.

It is my girls' jobs to announce that they need to visit the restroom - the restroom that is near the entrance to the store - when we are all the way at the back of the store.

It is the Little One's job to stand as close to the edge of cliff as possible when we go hiking in the hills, knowing full well that I suffer from a true phobia and will have a full-blown anxiety attack on the spot.

And it is my girls' jobs to compete for everything - attention, allowance, praise, space, time, snacks, you name it.

Yes, my girls take their jobs very seriously. And they do them really well! But every now and again they perform some of those other "duties not otherwise specified," like sharing or praising each other or sticking up for each other or hugging their mom after a bad day. Looks like they are earning their keep.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Pants Man!

This cracked me right up!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Girls vs Boys

Just like every other woman on the planet, I talk about men a lot. And just like every other woman on the planet, I am convinced that women have it tougher than men. Read on for an intimate glimpse into the world of being a woman:

Women can multi-task. Now, that sounds like a good thing, right? But hold yer horses just one cotton-pickin' minute. Once you make the mistake of multi-tasking in the presence of others, showing off your prowess for accomplishing the unimaginable, it becomes an expectation. Before you know it, you are quizzing the 7th grader on algebra facts while stirring a pot of chili while nursing a newborn while talking to your sister on the phone. (Yes, this occurred in my very own kitchen in 1997).

Women seem to peak physically at around 18 years of age. That is when most of us were at our most beautiful. Smooth forehead, perky breasts, lean legs, flat tummy, a waistline... Unfortunately there are many, many years of past-your-peak to follow. I call it "the decline." Most men don't reach their physical peak until later, about the time when women are losing their flat abs to childbirth. In other words, we get out of sync. And we stay that way. Forever.

When dieting, men lose weight more quickly than women. When working out, men see results more quickly, too. And if they hit the gym before work, it takes much less time to get it together before heading to the office (refer to my routine below).

Men look just fine with gray hair. I happen to think women look fine with gray hair, too, but enough money is spent on hair products to pay off the national debt.

We fight wrinkles, too. Oh, yes, we do. And according to the beauty consultants, it takes at least six different skin care products to fight 'em. I need an entire bathroom to myself for all my products. And how come my face still breaks out? That takes more products.

Men get ready for their day by showering, shaving (maybe, if they feel like it), combing their hair (if they have enough to brush), brushing their teeth, and putting on deodorant. If they are feeling lucky, they might put on scent.

This is my routine: shower, shampoo (twice), condition (for three minutes), shave (lots of surface area to cover), file the rough skin on my feet, lotion (every inch of my body), deodorize (not just underarms), comb through blow dry spray, blow dry, flat iron, apply shine spray, pluck what needs plucking, trim what needs trimming, polish toenails, put on undergarments (bra, panties or pantyhose, any other necessary foundation garments), dress, moisturize face, neck, and decollete', curl eyelashes, apply eye shadow base, foundation, blush, eyeliner, eyeshadow, mascara, and loose powder, pop in contact lenses, coordinate jewelry with outfit (any combination of necklace, earrings, bracelet, anklet, rings), moisturize and color lips, spray on scent, wipe off the excess after over spraying.

This is all done to compensate for "the decline."

That is before I go wake up the girls and get them ready, too. Mikel helps me a lot with this if he hasn't left for work yet (thank you, honey). While they get ready I start a load of laundry, fold whatever was left in there from the day before, sign all the papers they brought home the day before, give them lunch money, feed the pets, start the dishwasher, pack my lunch. I am only able to do any of this because Mikel hands me a perfectly blonde and sweet cup of coffee as soon as I get out of the shower. Ahh.

I won't go into physical strength, safety, and discrimination.

And apparently we have to be psychic, because sometimes our men clam up and just don't feel like telling us what is bothering them.

Men still get paid more, on the average, by the way. Argh.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Bad Day

Today I had my wallet stolen. Right out of my purse at the grocery store while I was browsing the aisles. My whole life was in there, just about. Some money has already been removed from one of my accounts. Debit cards and ATM cards have been deactivated, and money will be returned to the account. But accounts still need to be closed and money transferred to new accounts.

Most everything has to be done in person during business hours - drivers license, bank accounts, fraud alert. Everything is a priority, but I can't be everywhere at the same time.

I face possible identity theft. The thief knows where I live. There are photos of my children in the wallet. Business cards of friends and colleagues. I feel like I am going to throw up.

And then I discover that The Little One's hamster died sometime during the day. She was beside herself. Had to ask her to stop carrying it's little dead body around the house. Worse, I had to talk her out of just keeping it instead of burying it. I felt so badly for her. She just kept saying, "I took care of him. I just fed him and gave him fresh water. I even washed out his bottle." And she did all of those things. I guess it was just his time.

What a day. I want a do-over.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Moving On

I had a tough couple of days after hearing that my grandmother passed. Oh, I expected to feel sorrow over the lost opportunities and possibilities. And I did.

What I wasn't expected was how much this event would make me miss my mother. There is something about that historic connection to family that intrigues us, pulls us, even defines us. I am no expert on the subject, but I think that is right and normal.

I learned a few valuable things over the last two days. First, I learned that women's strength should never be underestimated. We can do more than one thing at a time, we are capable of handling more than one crisis at a time, we can show concern in more than one way, and we don't sit around waiting for people to tells us how or when to do it. We roll up our sleeves and dive right in.

I learned that there is still plenty of love in the world. As the word got out that I had suffered a loss, calls and emails and cards came out of nowhere. It was overwhelming to feel that kind of love. Thanks to everyone who reached out to me. It meant a lot.

I learned to expect the unexpected. And that somethings that you expect to happen never will, no matter how much you want it.

Mikel had homemade chili and cornbread waiting for me when I got home tonight. It was delicious, and a real treat not to have to cook. I'm worn out from the grieving - I think I'm out of tears. And I'm ready to move forward.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Bear with Me

(the picture referred to has been removed by editor)

I promise this huge picture of me won't be here for long. I'm just really proud of it! First of all, I generally take horrible, repeat horrible, pictures. But this one turned out all right! I'm still laughing at the fact that I was so excited that I never bothered to take my hair out from under the hood. And I was having a good hair day, too.

Secondly, I still can't believe that after all this time I finished a graduate degree. It was super cool to walk across that stage and then turn around to have the dean place that hood over my head. He is not a tall man, so even I had to bend at the knees so that he could reach above my head. Ha!

I'm told that pride is a sin. Guilty!

I have a good friend that was an Azalea Trail Maid in her home state of Alabama. She and her lovely companions were featured on billboards along the freeway, welcoming visitors to the state. They had to go through quite the rigmarole to be selected for this esteemed honor. She represented her home county and made many appearances in her antebellum gown, bonnet, and parasol. She was fiercely proud of this, still has the gown. I don't blame her.

Kelley's still as beautiful and sweet and fresh as she was in those head shots, by the way. She's soaking up the California sunshine now, pursuing a PhD in psychology. Beauty and brains.... is envy a sin, too? If so, guilty again!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Fumi Ishiwata - May 5, 1906 to January 8, 2008
My maternal grandmother died this morning. She was 101, or thereabouts. According to my cousin, back in that time birthdates were not accurately recorded.
The photo above is the only one I have access to at the moment, and I hesitated to post it. But I have to admit, it makes me smile.

Although we corresponded by mail, I never had the privilege of meeting her - she lived in Japan, and the flights are so expensive. I always meant to go, but I never managed to save up the money, and it is considered highly inappropriate in that culture to just arrive at someone's house for a visit. It must be prearranged and, in my case, include an interpreter.

My cousin confirmed what I already knew of her - she was raised in a wealthy family. Her father worked for the emperor. She even had the opportunity to attend university and acquire a teaching certificate, something that mainly only males accomplished in that era. My grandmother's mother insisted that she finish school, although my grandmother wanted instead to accompany her father to Germany.

Grandmother's father was from "old money." My mother spoke of being reared on her mother's father's plantation. They owned slaves (a distasteful but fascinating fact). Much was lost during and after the war.
My grandfather was a soldier, and he died during World War II. I was told that my grandmother also lost both of her sons - one to illness and one to an accident.

My grandmother urged my mother to attend university as well, and that was the plan until my mother fell in love with a young man from a family with "new money." Both families saw to it that the young lovers never married. My mother is a stubborn women (a trait I am told she inherited from her mother and with which I am quite familiar), and she became determined to move away from her mother. So she set her sights on a blue-eyed cowboy stationed at the army base nearby, and some time later she married my father. They lived in Japan for several years, moving to the states when my father's tour there ended.

For reasons too melancholy to mention, my mother never returned to Japan, never saw her mother or her family again. She passed away at the age of 58 - too young to leave us.

If what I believe is true, than my grandmother and my mother are catching up on old times as we speak. They are butting heads and raising their voices. And later, when the dust settles, they will grin at each other and know what it means to be with family again.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Name that Tune

I play along with some of those surveys sometimes. BB posts them pretty often. In the wake of my recent exposure to Disney musicals, I have been thinking, okay obsessing, about songs. The kind of songs that fit circumstances, tell stories, describe people. You know, like the ones in Disney musicals.

So here is a little survey of my own. Play along. I can't wait to see your choices.

1) If you had a personal theme song, what would it be? I could have chosen any number of girl-power songs, but the one that comes to the surface is In My Daughter's Eyes.

2) What song would you ask a DJ to dedicate to your someone special? Wow, there are several good ones. Today it might be If You Could Read My Mind.

3) What is the dumbest song you have ever heard? MacArthur Park

4) What song makes you dance in your kitchen when no one is looking? Hot, Hot, Hot

5) What song has lyrics (words) that you just can't understand, no matter how many times you listen to it? Uninvited. What is it that she is saying at the end of that refrain?

6) What is your ear worm - which annoying song manages to get stuck in your head a lot? Close to You

7) Which song are you most embarrassed to admit that you love? Kung Fu Fighting

8) Name a sultry song, one that makes your heart skip a beat. Besame Mucho, followed closely by Hero

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Nuttin' in Particular

This was a short week, having been off Monday and Tuesday. And yet I am worn out. Maybe it has something to do with cleaning up my home office today. I'm not done, but I made some headway and can see the floor again.
Went to see Enchanted last night. (I have girls, so naturally we go to see all the princess movies.) It was funny in spots, and campy altogether, but it made me smile. And, again, I sat there wishing that life was like that. That you could just break into song and dance on a whim while walking down the street, complete strangers joining in. I mean, I suppose you can break into song and dance anytime, but the reactions of onlookers would probably not be so favorable...
I was forced to take the girls to a birthday party today at Chuck E Cheese's. I detest that place. Their motto is "Chuck E Cheese's, where a kid can be a kid." More like "Where a parent can use a Valium." The pizza isn't even any good, which worked to my advantage as I have started a new healthy eating regimen. Did you know that some people don't wait for a birthday party but actually take their kids there for fun?! Amazing.
A friend of mine recently said that men were simple creatures. I laughed and nodded. But I've had some time to think about it, and I've decided that it is not true. I've decided that men can be really confusing. For one thing, lots of men find it difficult to express a broad range of emotions, so the ones you get are not always a fair representation of what they really feel. What appears to be indifference might be confusion, what seems to be anger may be worry, etc. Sheesh.

And there are the guys who tell their women that they prefer them 'au naturale' yet stop dead in their tracks to gawk at the perfectly primped passerby. Yes, gentlemen, we absolutely see you looking. And we quickly check our hair in the next available reflective surface.

Then there's the double standard. For instance, the fella would love it if his sweetie would keep her legs shaved at all times, just in case (wink, wink). But he thinks nothing of letting the beard grow a bit on the weekends. Boys, boys... do you think we don't care whether your cheeks are smooth, just in case?

And you know what? It's all fine. We know you're confusing. We know we are as well. Keeps things interesting.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Visual Aids

Here are some pictures from the trip to Garner....

El Rio Frio

Painted Rock in Garner State Park - well worth the hike

This bluff was not far from the trailhead in Lost Maples State Park. We hiked over four miles at Lost Maples, and there was some pretty strenuous climbing. The girls were real troopers.

Near the end of the hike in Lost Maples

The Little One, AKA The Machine, learning to cast. Turns out she is a natural.

The Not-So-Little One, fishing on the Frio. Before she was born, I thought I wanted to have boys, since I enjoy the outdoors so much. But the girls have proven to be every bit as much fun on camping trips, and they smell much better.

Nighty night....

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Hills Are Alive

Our Christmas trip to Garner State Park was a blast! I've been all over the part of the state they call the Hill Country, but I have not been as far south and west as Garner. Amazing! This is the true Hill Country. Here are the highlights, in no particular order:
  • The Little One starting her trip by getting her finger slammed in a door
  • Hiking in Garner and Lost Maples State Parks
  • Bicycling with the girls on their brand new bikes
  • Sitting cradled in the roots of an ancient cypress tree, alone on Friday morning, watching the mist rise off the Frio and singing a blessing to my loved ones
  • Matching the gaze of a buck as he deftly crossed the river in front of me
  • Feeding a little bird out of our hands
  • Shopping in Fredricksburg (Mikel stocked up on his jalapeno peanut butter)
  • Drinking hot chocolate while the girls ice skated in the park
  • Eating some darn good barbeque and chatting it up with the waitress in Bandera
  • The Not-So-Little-One looking out over the hilltops and announcing, "Mommy, this is a fine example of gravitropism." (Who says public school is lame?)
  • Fishing on the Frio
  • Skipping rocks (an obscure hidden talent of mine)
  • Roasting marshmallows by the fire
  • Seeing more stars than I knew existed

Here are a few observations from the trip:

  • Four people + seven days + one motorhome = a whole lot of togetherness
  • The Little One is a machine! She can hike/bike/run/fish/shop forever and she NEVER STOPS TALKING!
  • The Rio Frio is.

I confirmed a truth about me. I am drawn to the water. Specifically, I am drawn to moving water. As I got acquainted with the Frio, I was reminded of all the rivers and creeks on whose banks I have made myself at home - Leon, Guadalupe, Cow House, Colorado (both of them), Green, Red, Rio Grande, Neches, Angelina, Brazos, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri... a few in Germany when my dad was stationed there.

As a kid, when I wasn't knee deep in the water catching crawdads, I would sit by the creek and tear leaves into tiny pieces and throw them into the water, watching the current take them swiftly out of my sight. I never thought about the symbolism before, but it was rather like watching my troubles wash away from me. It was always soothing. Still is.

Santa treated us all well, and the new year holds much promise. Blessings to you and to those you love and even to those you don't.