Welcome to my blog. Thanks for coming! One day I hope my little piece of internet real estate will be home to lots of family photos, pictures of my scrapbook and card art, with some random thoughts and memories posted on a somewhat regular basis. Mostly my world is very predictable, but occasionally some excitement will find me, so visit often. Who knows what useful (or useless) information you may find here.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

One Year Closer

My Kid Brother

An angel from heaven came down one night

And made a big sister of me.
And though Mommy said it would happen some day,
It's not all that I thought it would be.
The baby smelt funny and cried all the time,
And Mommy, she always was tired
This baby was simply no fun at all!
If I was his boss he'd be fired!
But as he got older, he got kinda cute,
And one day he smiled up at me!
And when he was able to sit up and play,
It was then I was able to see,
That someday he might be a very good friend,
A brother I really could love,
And I could thank God for sending to me
This wonderful gift from above.

Through years of friendship, laughter, and tears, from playing in the sandpile to seeing who could flick boogers the farthest, from fussing and fighting to sharing secrets, from sharing cokes and popcorn at the movies to fighting over mom's fried okra:  This little boy has grown into the most amazing man, and I am so honored to call him brother and friend.  The problems of the world would be greatly diminished and perhaps even resolved if more men exhibited the qualities of kindness, wisdom, and integrity that are seen in my brother.  Even though he lived to embarrass me in front of my boyfriends, and annoyed the crap out of we girls when I had sleepovers, I can't imagine another person on earth with whom I would want to share my DNA. 

Michael - I love you with all my heart.  I admire who you are, what you have become, and what you are doing every day to make this world a better place.  I appreciate what you do for your family, and how you never fail to champion your big sister.   

You are my hero. 

Love, Cat 

Newborn baby
Gorgeous eyes!
Sibling worship
Cherokee Bound!
We hated these poses... lol
Don't turn your back on that penguin!
Daddy Bill's truck
One of my favorite pictures of the little guy.
Uncle Ricky got this cute little sailor suit for him.
Graduation day!

All grown up
I cried when I saw these Army pictures...
Because he looked so mean.
But he wasn't mean at all
Same old Michael - loving his family!
Riding bikes with Baby Ryan in Germany
Sweet Tori and Daddy
What a great father
Beautiful family
Wedding day
My first Departure show
Rocking Wild Bill's
Granddaddy Heaven with Baby Lucy
Departure at Wild Bill's

Sibling Love. 

One year closer to the big five-oh!!

Happy Birthday, Michael!  I love you!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Doctors, 2016, & Old Friends

Day Three of Staycation has come and gone.  Honestly, there must be something woven into the physics of vacation days that cause them to rush by with lightning speed.  My co-worker, Jeneine, was on vacation last week visiting her daughter and son-in-law in Texas.  I remember how quickly that week sped by for me, and couldn't help but think about her, knowing her time with family would fly by far too soon.  If I had spent the week at the beach like originally planned, the week would be over by now (ha) and I'd already be back at work.  Just something about the beach that puts vacation days at warp speed and it's over before it gets started good.  My last post contained a list of all the things I intended to get done this week.  Sometimes having a large to-do list motivates me.  And then sometimes it's like the funny poster:  "That moment when you have so much crap to do - you decide to take a nap instead."

Well, there haven't been any naps - yet - and I have been busy.  But my list doesn't seem to be growing any shorter.  I knew yesterday would be a bust as far as getting anything done around here, because I had some things to do away from home.  The day started off with a visit to the PCP.  Always fun.  Most folks, under stressful situations, will lose their appetite and often drop pounds.  Not so with yours truly.  I'm up EIGHT POUNDS in five months.  Boo.  I'm not surprised, though, as my eating habits have been even more atrocious since the move.  I have cooked twice, and the rest of the time it has either been take-out or something out of a box like PopTarts or Lean Cuisine (with Texas Garlic Bread = thousands of buttery calories!)  So that's another thing to add to my list.   Straighten up and fly right - get this eating thing under control again.  I wish we didn't even have to eat.  Just think.  No worrying about planning meals, no spending money on groceries, no slaving over a hot stove (cough, cough), no cleaning up the kitchen.  No counting calories or carbs.

Hang on - I gotta go toast my bagel and smother it with cream cheese - I'll be right back.

After the PCP, I stopped in for a session with the counselor.  I almost canceled that appointment, because, tough as it has been, I truly feel as though I've turned a corner in the grieving process, and I'm going to be okay.  Not foolish enough to think that there won't be tough times still ahead.  Sometimes the sadness descends upon me like a dark cloud - but thankfully, I am learning that it is only temporary, and no longer feel crippled by it.  Some days are giant steps forward, some days are baby steps forward, and there are still times that feel like I'm going backward.  But, it is what it is... and I'm moving forward, learning to cope.  The counselor was very pleased with my progress, but was careful to remind me that it's not a done deal, and to expect moments where I'm not feeling as strong, but to push through it, even if it feels like I can't.  Because I can.

Flu shot at the hospital.  I don't care what they say about it not being a live organism - last year I had a horrible time afterwards!!  I had a low-grade fever, and my joints not only ached when I moved them, they HURT - so badly that I couldn't even prop myself up or pick up anything heavy.  I'm hoping that's not the case this year!!  I've still got a few days to work on my to-do list!!

Lunch with Danette was most enjoyable!  We arrived at 2:20, and they close at 2:30.  Oh well... they lock the doors at 2:30 and re-open later for dinner... but said we could take our time eating and sit for a spell afterward.  Normally the time I spend with her is rush-rush and always work-related, so it was great to sit down and relax, and speak of something besides physicians and transcription.

I had sort of planned to catch the movie 2016 Obama's America after lunch, but when it was time to go, I just wasn't feeling it.  But - since I had to head out to that part of town to the Home Depot, I decided to go.  I wanted to see it, and knew if I didn't take this opportunity, that I probably never would.  This is sorta sad - but I can't tell you the last time I was in a movie theater.  Really, I can't.  It was awesome.  Ha!  The radio in my car won't fade to the back, and it has been a long time since I've had a nice home stereo system.  My auditory nerves went into fits of ecstasy when the music filled the room - and even though every single movie trailer of coming previews was for an animated film - the music was great!  Made me want to sneak into another theater and watch a *real* movie to get the full effects of the sound and the action on the big screen. I decided to stop being such a cheapskate and the next time a movie I really want to see comes out, I'm going to the movies and enjoy it.  I always have intentions of watching it on DVD, and then never seem to get around to it.  So, I'll treat myself to a night (or maybe matinee) at the movies.  But - I won't be spending 15.00 for popcorn and a Coke.  Good grief!  How do kids afford to go on dates any more?  Dinner and a movie would set a fella back a week's salary from his after-school job!  

But I digress.  2016.  Hmmm.  My review.  For starters, I'm not an Obama supporter.  No secret there.  Of course, I knew it was an anti-Obama production (I seriously doubt I'd have paid $5.50 to watch something that lauded him).  I already know that I'm not going to vote for him, so it wasn't something I needed to help me make up my mind. I just wanted to see it.  As far as my review - I didn't care for the cinematography.  I found it distracting.  I know they just want to keep it interesting, and not look like 20/20 interviews, but all the changing scenery, color scheme, and relatively loud music in the background was distracting.  The music score was great - and sounded super inside the theater - but was distracting when trying to listen to heavily-accented dialogue, and process the information being given.  I sat with my iPhone taking notes for things I wanted to check later.

Who we admire, who we choose as our mentors, who we surround ourselves with speaks far louder than words we say, and promises we make behind a podium.  The film brings to light the important people of President Obama's past, whose theologies he has embraced. College professors, pastor, mentors, etc.  It speaks of his father and grandfather, and examines quotes from his book The Dreams From My Father.  There are clips of "off the mike" comments made to other world leaders that could be interpreted as alarming.

Is it propaganda?  Absolutely.  Would I have gone to see it if it were anti-Romney?  Absolutely.  Will it have the desired effect?  Probably not.  Most Americans are satisfied to be spoon-fed what to believe, and consider themselves informed because they listen to Diane Sawyer at 7:00 every night.  And don't get me wrong - I love Diane Sawyer.  But I also love Sean Hannity and Neil Boortz - not because I agree with what they say, but because they make me QUESTION what Diane Sawyer (et al) says. Just because we hear it on the major network news or read it in the newspaper, doesn't make it so. There's a spin on everything.  I've always said there's the left, there's the right, and there's the truth.  Somewhere in between all the craziness of the liberal and conservative media.  As far as this film having an effect on the election, I don't think so.  Folks who are going to vote for him won't go see it.  Folks who are not going to vote for him still aren't going to vote for him.  The undecided ones are going to see it as a GOP effort to sway votes, and won't give it much credence.  I do find it interesting that we aren't hearing much about the film.  Certainly no movie trailers on TV like Harry Potter or Batman.  And then you'd think the Obama camp would be screaming about it - but to draw attention, even negative attention, wouldn't be in their best interest either, so most of the advertisement for the film has been done on the internet.  Interesting.

I'm still not voting for him - but even so - I have some Google homework to do.  I'm going to take a closer look at the people President Obama has held close, all his life, and see if my research lines up with how these people were projected in the film.   I hope the author of the film is very, very wrong.  If he is even a little bit right, and if Mr. Obama is elected to a second term, then I'm even more concerned (afraid!) than I was before I saw the film.  I have many friends who are staunch supporters, and nothing I say will change that.  I'm not interested in debating anything - platforms, the content of this film - so just don't go there.  I will only say that if you are happy with the Hope and Change that you've gotten in these four years, then good for you.  The next four (Obama) years will bring about Change as well - just don't Hope that it will be for the good.  And I'm not talking about same-sex marriage, abortion rights, or Obamacare.  It goes far, far deeper than that.  Doesn't matter what side of the street you're on regarding those things, the goal (projected in this film) will be no respector of liberal or conservative America, and these issues will pale in comparison with what we will be facing in America.

Quick trip to Home Depot to get my paint can all shook up, and back to Target to pick up a coffee pot.  My big one died.  Mornings without coffee can be dangerous around here.  While in Target, I ran across a friend and former co-worker, Cindi Wallace, and had the BEST visit!  She just got herself a new craft studio, and we decided while Billy is at work one night, we're gonna BUILD STUFF!!  :-)  Looking forward to that!!!

It was a busy day, and I didn't get home til after 8 last night.  No items were checked off my list.  But, it was good to get all those away-from-home things taken care of without trying to squeeze it in between work hours.

....Sigh..... How I do love having time off from work!  Even if it does pass in the blink of an eye!

Staycation Day Four: Paint the hall bath and kitchen.  Time to get busy!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Staycation 2012

Nothing much better than the beach in autumn!  Because my Aunt Joyce and Uncle Gene have a townhouse on the coast, I've been blessed with the opportunity to spend some time at the ocean (my favorite place) each fall (my favorite season).  I was determined to go this year, because a scheduling conflict prevented the trip last fall.  The visit we planned immediately after school was out for the summer was canceled as well, as Whitney and her family were in the midst of preparing to move.

This morning should have found me sipping coffee, watching the sun rise over the horizon, with long, lazy days ahead to enjoy the surf and leisurely walks on the beach.  Then a couple of months ago my husband decided to shake things up a bit, and once again, the beach trip was canceled.  I considered going on my own, for a much-needed respite from all the craziness.  I do enjoy my own company, and I've spent time alone at the beach before.  After thinking it through, though, I decided it would probably be best to wait awhile before returning to the place where we honeymooned and had such a great week together.  Not so sure I would be strong enough to face those demons just yet.  

I considered giving back the vacation days, and save the time off until later - when I was feeling better and more likely to enjoy myself doing something fun.  Then I took a look at my To-Do List, and decided to take the days off anyhow, and challenge myself to get as much done around here as I possibly could.  Not exactly a Staycation - as there will be little time for leisure or local fun, but technically, I'm on vacation (from work) and I'm staying home, so I suppose that qualifies as a Staycation. 

The week started off with a bang.  Whitney had a yard sale on Saturday, so Friday evening was spent in my attic, retrieving all manner of crap that had accumulated there over the years.  It was a late night.  Always fun, though... we find things that make us giggle that other folks just never *get*.  I have fun with her no matter what we are doing . The yard sale on Saturday was fun too, and my mom sat outside and visited with us.  All morning the aroma of smoke-pit barbecue from the Sunflower Festival teased us, and by the time we were finished, I was starving.  After we packed up everything, I went down for a few minutes to grab a bite to eat, then stopped by to visit an old friend.  It was a good day, and a quiet evening at home was the perfect ending to a beautiful day.  

Since changing my work schedule back in April, I've been enjoying Sundays off.  (I work M-F like normal people now!!)  Since moving back to Statham, I've gotten back into the habit of a little snooze on Sunday afternoons, and fully intended to indulge in a nap yesterday, and begin tackling my list on Monday. Wouldn't you know it, the weather forecast called for rain Monday and Tuesday.  I decided to postpone the nap and take advantage of the gorgeous afternoon, and get started on my outdoor projects.  

Now my daddy is the best daddy ever (and in his younger days could have beat up your daddy any day...) and he's always willing to lend a hand.  Thank you, Dad!!  But sometimes I just get a stubborn streak and decide I'm going to do something my ownself.  My mom always says "Your daddy will do it", or after the fact, "You know your daddy would have done that for you."  I do so love A Man Who Can Do Things.  But sometimes, I want to be A Girl Who Can Do Things.  I fail about as many times as I succeed, but it's not because I don't try.  Yesterday's project was repairing the entry ramp into my storage building.  The support frame is still in good condition, but the boards themselves had rotted.  I could hoist myself up into the building using only the top plank and pulling myself on the door frame, but stepping down was a bit precarious.   Thank You Lord, I haven't blown out my knee or twisted my ankle trying to get in and out of the building. I'm just clumsy like that.  Shut up. 

We all know that I suck terribly at math - however - a few weekends ago I carefully measured the length of the ramp, as well as the width, and documented the measurements in my phone.  One day last week, I went to the Home Depot and spent a good 30 minutes in the lumber aisle with my calculator (how did I ever function before my iPhone?).  Who knew there were so many choices in lumber?  I kinda felt like the most important consideration would be the thickness of the wood, so I chose a 2" thickness.  I knew the ramp was 60" long, and the planks 27" wide.  I decided to play it safe and go with a 28" wide cut.  With calculator, pen and paper in hand, I first considered a 12" wide plank x 12' long.  I figured .............


I almost slit my wrists right there in the Home Depot doing the math.  No way I'm going to relive that here in my blog.  There's not enough coffee in the neighborhood that can make that happen this early on a Monday. Just take my word for it.  I figured it out, got the little guy to make the cuts for me and I was on my way.  

Yesterday afternoon, armed with my 28", pressure-treated Yellawood planks, my pink Girl Tools, and my Bosch 18v cordless drill all loaded in my weathered wheelbarrow, I headed for the storage building.  Can I just say that I Love My Power Drill!!  I was a little worried about getting the old boards off, but I put that drill in Reverse and most of the screws backed out with very little effort. (And allow me to interject here that I was delighted to see that the screws I had purchased for the project were identical to the ones I was removing!! That was a good sign!)  I won't even tell you how rotten the wood was.  Well, okay, I'll tell you.  One or two of the pieces just crumbled away from the screws, and let's just say the splinters would make for some dang good fire-starter wood.  A few of the screws were stubborn, but I accidentally discovered that if you hammer them down and bend them a little, you can get them out Allen-wrench style.  (Yes.  When I grow up I want to be a carpenter.) 

Next I carefully laid all the pieces onto the frame, to make sure they would fit.  I had about 1" of frame left over at the bottom (which really irked me, because while I seriously suck at math, I do know that 10 x 6 = 60, and my planks were SUPPOSED to be 6" wide, and the ramp was 60" long.  See why I hate math?).  I considered leaving tiny spaces between the planks.  There are all kinds of mysteries involved with construction, and I was thinking that maybe the wood might "expand" in the heat or something - and maybe there was a reason that I should leave a tiny crack between them.  But then I thought better of that.  I knew that if one tiny crack was 0.5 cm wider than another one, I'd never be able to sleep again. I like symmetry.  I decided to just go with keeping the planks "square" (yes, I used a T-square thingy) and take my chances with not leaving any cracks.  One by one, the planks went down.  The wood offered more resistance than I expected, and upon drilling the first screw, I thought I had ripped my thumb off.  (Bilateral thumb surgery in the past has left me with weakness.) I quickly learned to put some weight on the end of the drill, which  relieved the stress considerably. Forty screws later, both my hands were throbbing, my back was breaking, I was covered in sweat... but.. by crackie.. I had built my ramp!!  I have before and after pictures for your enjoyment.  Looking at the after picture, I'm a little distressed that the planks aren't perfectly centered.  There's more of a hang-over on the left side than the right side.  It has been difficult, but I am managing to accept it, and not unscrew all ten  planks and start over.  

My other project for the afternoon was to clear away two seasons' worth of leaves that had accumulated against the end of my house, underneath the tiny porch, and in my hosta garden.  (Calling it a hosta garden is a stretch.  There are four or five plants.  But they are really beautiful, and could be the beginning of a nice hosta garden.)  The blower wasn't quite strong enough to blow away the wet mess, so a little elbow grease was required to clear out the packed in, composted pile of leaves.  Finally I got it all raked up and delivered to the gully across the street.  The blower worked quite nicely to clear the area of the remaining debris.  It looks unbelievably clean and tidy out there now.  To my dismay, I didn't have enough bags of pine bark to cover the rest of my "hosta garden", and will have to grab a few more bags when I'm out.  

So, Day 1 of my Staycation goes down in the books as very productive.  I still have some more outside work to do, and I'm looking forward to the end of the week when the weather is supposed to be nice again.  

So instead of sipping coffee on the beach watching the sun rise over the ocean, I'm sitting at home in the office, writing a blog about what I have done so far, and what else I plan to do this week.  I have two clinics from last week to transcribe this morning, then will be up and about the task at hand.  There's another clinic on Wednesday that I'll transcribe either Wednesday night or Thursday morning, and that will be all of my "paid" work for the week.  Wednesday I have several appointments, and a lunch date with Danette, so that day probably won't be very productive as far as my to-do list goes.

Okay, so I know you are dying to know how I plan to spend the rest of the Staycation. Here is the list that I've been compiling on my clipboard for weeks now:

  • Rake/blow leaves, clean out hosta garden, put down fresh pine bark nuggets.  Done!
  • Repair ramp to storage building Done!
  • Clean off front porch Done!
  • Assemble kitchen cart  Done!
  • Hang curtain rod and curtain in office Done!
  • Transfer data from old laptop to new laptop
  • Paint hall bath
  • Install vinyl flooring in hall bath (I might have to wave the white flag and call my daddy on this one)
  • Line drawers/cabinets in hall bath
  • Paint kitchen
  • Clean tile grout in kitchen
  • Organize laundry room cabinets/shelves
  • Unpack remaining boxes
  • Re-structure/organize craft room
  • Back-yard/shed cleanup (Landfill!)
A week?  ....sigh....  I may have been a little over-ambitious and optimistic with my goals.  I think I have enough to keep me busy through several Staycations!  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Just Another Day?

Some days are harder than others.  I know it won't always be like this.  Each day should get easier.  Baby steps. Some days it's two baby steps forward, three giant steps backward.  Other days only forward steps. Yay!  And then the awful days of giant steps backward.  Thankfully there are fewer of those with each passing week.

I find strength in many places - in my prayers, from Scripture, in the words and kind gestures of my family and friends.  Surprisingly, I have also found strength, encouragement, and comfort in inspirational posters all over the internet.  It might sound lame to others, but it works for me.  Affirmation is important, and hope for brighter days is crucial. Sadly, though, it seems for every inspirational one I find, for every one that uplifts and comforts me, there are also those posters that depict the joys of being in love, the rewards of commitment, all the sweet, romantic things that a girl would love to send to the man of her dreams.  And those posters serve to remind me of the dark shadow of hurt and disappointment that looms over my heart.  So - is it better or worse for me to look at them?  I'd say I get more encouragement than discouragement, so I continue to look, continue to copy/save them in a folder labeled "Inspiration". Sometimes I just open the folder and look through them, and feel a little bit better. There are dark moments in every day.  I suppose that's just to be expected.  It is normal to mourn the loss of something/someone you loved, and those moments will come no matter what I'm doing.  They come at the most inopportune times, and at times, are crippling.  Surrounding myself with strong women who love me, encourage me, and are praying for me has been my salvation.  They are my Giant Killers.  I have faith that with the passage of time, those moments will come less and less often and will be replaced with the ability to enjoy the good memories and remember them with happiness - not sadness.  There's another quote I like:  "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened".  Well, I'm not at that place just yet - but that's my prayer and my goal.  There are definitely good memories to treasure.  I'm just waiting for the "not hurting to remember" part to start.

Affirmation.  Hope for brighter days.  Yes.  I will take strength and empowerment wherever they may be found.  And I've always been a sucker for a pretty picture/poster embellished with profound words of wisdom.

I like what this poster says.  Every day is a clean slate.  A gift.  A new chance to make the right choices, and do the right things.  A new day to choose to move forward, to lay aside and move beyond the things that weigh heavily on our hearts and our minds.

Will today be just another day?  Or will I make it a day that counts?  With every baby step forward, I choose to make it a day of moving in the right direction.  Another day closer to a peaceful heart.  Yes, indeed. Every day counts.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Grass Is Always Greener

Regular readers of this blog may remember my Lawn Mower Nightmares.  Every summer it seemed that after one or two uses, my mower would simply die. And I never could crank the stupid thing without pulling my shoulder out of joint.  Two years in a row I bought new mowers. After the second new one, when it spent more time in the repair shop than it did my yard, finally, they refunded my money.  I’m sure they were as happy about it as I was.  I decided to try a smaller, local hardware store instead of one of the big-box stores, and had a great experience with Hill’s Ace in Winder.  That mower is still working just fine – but not realizing I would again be in charge of my own yardwork, I let Whitney and Dustin take it when they moved to their house. 

You must understand something about me.  When it comes to cutting grass and getting haircuts – I’m very impatient.  When I’m ready to do it, I’m ready right now.  Don’t want to wait.  A couple of weeks ago, Dustin said he would cut the grass if we could get his riding mower over here.  I decided I didn’t want to wait – so I went to Home Depot and got my own dang lawn mower.  I’ve been doing a lot of shopping in Lowe’s and Home Depot these days, and have gotten on a first-name basis with some of the associates.  At the HD on Epps Bridge, there’s a delightful young man named Adam whom I am considering adopting.  He is very handy, and knows a lot of things about a lot of things – mainly where most items are located in the store.  On this particular trip, I was happy to see Adam, and after he assisted me with some fluorescent light bulbs, we wandered over to the lawn-mower section.  He showed me a mower that he had himself purchased recently, and recommended I consider that one.  It’s all pretty and red, and has big wheels on the back that help with uneven ground. He sold me when he said that all you have to do is take it out of the box, fold up the handle, tighten some bolts, put in the gas and oil and it’s good to go.  He swore to me that it cranked on the first pull.  I was all in.  After assisting me with a few other items, and agreeing to be my personal shopping assistant for all eternity, he loaded it into the car, and I drove home – ready to tackle my yard.  To my WONDERFUL surprise, my neighbor Tammy had cut the front yard for me, while she was out doing her own yard!!  Gosh, I love my neighbors!!!  The back yard was too high for this push mower, and David came over later with his tractor-mower and took care of that for me.  That was a couple of weekends ago.  And, as we know, that pesky grass just insists on growing all summer long.  So, today was the day!  Time to cut the grass!!  

My wake-up call came this morning at 8:30, when David called to say The Biscuit Man had arrived. In all my early-morning glory, I trekked up to the Huth patio for coffee and biscuits.  It was a beautiful morning to sit outside and enjoy some peaceful conversation.  

After that, I was psyched about cutting the grass.  Except I couldn’t find my shoes.  I think I left my yard-work shoes at Steve’s, and my slip-on Sketchers are dangerous on uneven ground.  I nearly broke my foot a few weeks ago trying to clean up some clippings in the yard while wearing them. This presented a dilemma.  I know I need to pick up a pair of cheap shoes for working outside.  But – unlike the Wal Mart people whose pictures we see and make fun of, I try not to go shopping (even at Wal Mart) without looking like I just got out of bed.  Doing so at the Dollar G in Statham isn’t QUITE as bad – but that place is usually hoppin’ on Saturday mornings, and one never knows who you might run into.  I thought I’d take a chance, and go down and see if they had any kind of footwear that would get me through today’s grass-cutting marathon.  I had to go to town anyway to get gas for the lawn mower.  I didn’t want to get all gussied up just to go to Wal Mart, then come home and get all dirty and smelly.  At the Dollar G, I tried on some “Youth” shoes that I considered.  I thought I’d look rather spiffy in some Spiderman shoes, and maybe Spidey would give me superpowers while I worked outside.  But I worried with all that walking, they might be a bit too snug.  Almost defeated, I happened to see a pair of $6.00 ladies cloth “tennis shoes” with some shiny things bedazzled on the side.  Tried these ones, and they felt okay.  So, instead of Spiderman, I decided I’d probably do better with the movie star shoes. 

Then it was off to the gas station. At the time I bought the mower, I also wanted a new gas can. Adam escorted me to the proper aisle and showed me a display of lovely bright red gasoline containers.  I was interested in a 2-gallon can, but the choices were either really expensive ones, or really cheap ones.  There was one style in the mid price range that looked like it would make me happy, so that’s the one I chose.  Unfortunately, I had dismissed Adam before making my selection. I’m sure he would have advised against this particular one. But, there's no one to blame.  I chose it all on my own. It looked like a very nice can, that you could trust to keep the gasoline safely inside without leaking.  Yes, it’s a very secure gas can.  But the nozzle is some kind of weird contraption – so weird that I had to chase down a guy at the gas station to get him to show me how the silly thing worked.  And when he couldn’t figure it out either, I didn’t feel quite so badly about it.  Finally I got the nozzle thingy on securely and made my way home with my sparkly shoes and funky gas can. 

Armed with my bottle of motor oil, my container of gasoline, my instruction manual, reading glasses, kitchen knife (to cut some bubble-wrap stuff off the handle), and my sparkly shoes, I went out to the shed, ready for the maiden voyage of my mower. Thankfully the oil-hole thingy was marked prominently, and the oil went in without problem.  The gas … well that was a challenge. The ‘normal’ position of the nozzle on my newfangled gas can is in the closed position. To securely avoid accidental spills. (Can you hear the sarcasm?) In order to open up the nozzle for the gas to flow, you have to first squeeze this long protruding plastic thing built into the side of the nozzle, then push down on the long protruding plastic thing while squeezing.  My hands are small, and due to surgery in the past on both thumbs, my grip strength is weak.  So, it took both my hands to squeeze it and push it down.  And the nozzle is straight. There’s no accordion-like bendy part to let you wiggle it around and aim it.  It’s about 6” long, and straight.  So – as Larry Munson used to say – “get the picture”.  I hoisted the 16 lb (I think I remember from Bill Nye The Science Guy that a gallon of water weighs 8 lb, so I guess two gallons of gasoline would weigh 16, lb… right Tangela?) I hoisted the 16 lb can of gasoline up between my knees/thighs, lean my body forward precariously, tilt the thing toward the gas tank opening, while squeezing and pressing with both hands, and the gasoline begins pouring into the tank… and all over my hands.  Because the long protruding plastic thing is built into the side of the nozzle, and there’s a “slit” in the nozzle to accommodate the long protruding plastic thing, when it is depressed, the gasoline pours out of the slit in the nozzle. And did I say all over my hands? This is not going well.  I don’t like smelly, icky things on my skin.  Ewww. 

After washing up and putting on my garden gloves, the REAL moment of truth arrived.  I had Home Depot on speed dial – just in case I needed to call Adam to make a house call if I couldn’t get this baby to crank.  My right shoulder is at times temperamental, and the least awkward movement can send me into fits of pain.  I was a little nervous about the pulling-the-rope thing.  ADAM, you are my hero!!!  My beautiful little red mower started on the FIRST PULL out of the box. Ever!  No smooshing the "choke" balloon thingy, no wiggling spark plugs. I would NOT kid you about this!  Victory is SWEET!  

With my iPhone set on iPod, my headphones on my ears, and sunglasses (to protect my eyes from the sparkling shoes) perched on my nose, I set across the yard to get the job done.  Dang.  Have you seen that hill at the corner of my lot and Tammy’s?  That section almost killed me.  I remembered that it was tough, and made the smart decision to tackle that first – before I got tired – and was very glad to get that behind me.

I’ve always enjoyed cutting the grass.  There’s that satisfaction of seeing and smelling the freshly mowed lawn, and seeing the fruits of my labor.  Yeah, I’m kinda weird like that.  It’s a great physical workout, too.  (Though I must admit - I will only use a self-propelled mower – I did that Cathy-propelled thing many years ago, and I’m not THAT much into a physical workout!)  Cutting grass is also a great time to vent my frustrations.  Over the years, I have had imaginary conversations in which I would “get somebody told” -  wherein I would fuss and gripe and complain about whatever bothered me.  Sometimes I would even talk out loud.  As long as the neighbors weren’t home, mind you.  At the end of the chore, my lawn would be beautiful, and I had the satisfaction of getting some things off my chest.  And we know – in our imaginary confrontations with other folks, we ALWAYS emerge the victor.  “Hmph.  I guess I told HIM/HER a thing or two!!!” 

With the turmoil that has been my life lately, I figured today would be no different, and I had a few things I wanted to *say* to a few people.  I was looking forward to it.  Normally I *write*.  I write very long letters that I don’t send, I write journals that no one ever sees, I write my thoughts into a private blog that no one reads.  It helps to clear my mind, and helps to process my thoughts and feelings.  Occasionally I will snail-mail or e-mail a letter, though I am at times so verbose that the message probably gets lost in the words, and the effect is not what I intended.  Today I was ready for bear. I figured I’d give my tired fingers a respite from all the *writing* I’ve done lately, and just have imaginary conversations.  In which, of course, I would be the victorious one, with cleverly executed remarks that would deeply impact the listener, and change the course of history and the future.

I also knew, though, that I must walk carefully, for embedded somewhere within my DNA ladder is a gene labeled CLUMSY.  I’m still limping on my left foot from the aforementioned injury, and today I’m wearing cheap $6.00 cloth shoes.  They were nice and sparkly, but provided no support for my feet/ankles.  I turned the iPod up as loud as it would go, and after cranking on the first pull, I engaged the propelling thing, and I was off.  Between watching my steps on the uneven grass, and listening to the music, I forgot all about releasing my frustrations that might be aimed at any particular person(s).  Sadly, I don’t listen to music that much any more, and found that I was really getting into it, and rather enjoyed having those guys along to “help” me get the job done.  Steven Tyler, Axl Rose, Roger Waters, Jimmy Buffett and *gasp* The BackStreet Boys were very good company to me as I slaved in the heat of the day.  With the iPod on shuffle, I never knew what would come up next, and was getting along just dandy until Shania Twain started crooning through my headphones – and I must admit – I’m glad there was no traffic on Sunset, or the passersby would have probably called the men in white coats.  It was not pretty. I kinda lost it right there between the sidewalk and the oak tree. But… that moment passed. Led Zepplin and ZZ Top to the rescue, and all was well again. (Note to self – either remove that song from the playlist altogether, or learn how to “skip” it with one hand, while holding the lever on the mower that keeps it from shutting down with the other hand.) About 10 minutes before I would have finished with the entire front/side yard, behold – the heavens opened and buckets of rain poured from the sky.  Shoot.  I really wanted to finish it all today.

Forecast says rain showers throughout the evening.  You know what this means.  This means that I must get dirty again another day.  I don’t like being smelly and dirty.  I wanted to get all this smelly, dirty work done in one session.  Right now as I type this, there is dirt under my fingernails, and dirt in the creases of my elbows. There's a muddy streak down the side of my cheek from rivulets of sweat pouring through the dirt that got blown onto my face.  I think I might gag.  (A thunderstorm has delayed my shower.) Another reason I wanted to get it all done in one day is because I’m sure tomorrow and the next day I’ll be sore.  Yes.  As shameful as it is, my sedentary work and lifestyle doesn’t involve much physical activity.  And I will be sore.  In a day or two when the yard dries out, I’ll go outside one evening to cut the back yard… and it will hurt. 

But for all my complaining about the rain, and not being able to finish the job, there are other errands I must do today – so I’ll just go wash all this dirt off of myself, and continue on with my chores. 

Besides, we all know that the grass is always greener after the rain.