Monday, November 19, 2012

A new home...

My blog has officially grown up and is now living over at

Here's the new link:

Please consider heading over there and follow me via email if you've enjoyed reading here!  Thanks for your support and catch you on the flip side.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

WTF, Thursday????

I have said it before, but it bears repeating - I don't know how you moms do it.   I don't know how you keep it together when you have more than yourself and a canine to worry about.

Days like today humble me.

I was supposed to get up at 6:45.  Around 7:05 I roll my ass out of bed, let the dog out, use up all the hot water while pondering what outfit I can scrape together from my sorry, sad, boring fall wardrobe.  It needs to be a good one, since I'll be speaking to a Jr. Auxiliary Board at 9am (this is code for well-coiffed, well-dressed, impressively put-together community activist-type women).

Around 7:15 I climb out of the shower and begin my morning ablutions, which include facial moisturizer.  I realize I can rely on an old standard for clothes - a cute brown skirt, with a black shirt and some boots.  After getting dressed, I apply a second coat of moisturizer (since in the last 5 minutes, I'd forgotten about the first application) and wonder of wonders, I'm almost out of the house on time.  I grab a piece of toast, my phone, my laptop, and jump into my car.

Then I look down, and notice that I've spilled BUTTER on my go-to brown skirt.  Crap.

I rush back into the house, find another skirt, find shoes (fun patent leather heels, more on those later), change my jewelry and head out to the office.  Once there, I reach for my phone to send a phone.  I search my purse, my pockets...CRAP!  So I resort to an old-school text (a post-it note) and rush to my 8am radio interview.  In the parking lot, I FIND my phone (fallen between the seat and the console), and head into the studio. Unlike most mornings, I'm wired and hyper because of all I have to do in the next hour.  During the interview, my cell phone text notification goes off (classy), I mangle a few days and names (professional), and then I'm done (thank god).  I race back to the office, pick up my stuff and zoom up to Rogers for my presentation.

While stuck in traffic, I wonder if I have my Walton Arts Center name badge.  I root around in my purse, find it, and put it in a special place for safekeeping.

Then I arrive at the place where I'm speaking (after getting off one exit too early), and for the life of me, I can't find the name badge.  I turn out my pockets, I search my purse.  No badge.  What the hell?  Giving up, I head into the building, badgeless but on time for once in my life.  

About 4 slides into the presentation, I realize I have no idea what slide is coming next (this is because I only got assigned to this speaking engagement about 12 hours prior and I'm using someone else's slides).  That was a good laugh, inside my head.  I winged it (as I often do), got through it, and soon I was headed back to Fayetteville.

I couldn't really tell you what happened in the next few hours, except that I discovered that the cute black patent leather shoes were the kind that DON'T get more comfortable the more you wear them.

Around 4:30pm, the wardrobe issue rears it's head again.  Crap.  I have a gala to go to tonight, and there is NOTHING in my closet that is suitable.  So I race to the mall, grab 4 dresses off the rack, and begin the fastest trying-on session ever.  There was one dress that looked really quite hot from the front (hey, where did those hips come from?), but alas, the side view...not so much.  But luckily, there was a suitable basic black dress (with sleeves, essential for me) and a whole big, colorful, beautiful display of pashminas.  One dress and two pashminas later, I'm headed home.

Once home, my dog greets me with joy for about 5 seconds before she realizes that my distracted air and determined stride mean I am leaving her alone (again), and she retires to the guest room to leave me to my frantic efforts to get dressed.  Three layers of spanx, stockings and slips later (seriously, my midsection is bruised) I'm ready to go.

I open the car door, and look what I find.

Yup.  That's my name badge.  In the car door.  Where I'd apparently put it for safekeeping.   And yes, my car needs a serious cleaning.  You wanna make somethin' of it?

Anyway, after that, the day evened out a bit; I attended a fundraising gala and spent some time with good people, and my friend won a really kick-ass raffle prize.  I'm really happy for her.  Not jealous at all.  No way, not me.

And now I'm home, and so tired that I've retyped this sentence three times.

The only other life form needing something from me at the moment is my dog, who is still harboring a faint hope that we might go for a walk (silly pooch).  I can't imagine what I would do if there were kids or husbands needing attention right now.  Again, moms who do this every day, I salute you, and I sincerely hope you have more fall wardrobe options than I do.  Because with the two skirts I wore today, I've exhausted mine.

PS: I demurred from participating in Day 4 of Arkansas Women Bloggers ThanksBlogging challenge, as I don't have a Facebook fan page for this blog, and at the moment, I can't fathom having another social media channel to obsess over.  Tomorrow is Foodie Friday, so we'll see if I can conjure up some kind of contribution. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I'm thankful for...

Contact lenses.

The unwavering loyalty (mostly undeserved) of my dog.

The ability to have heat when it gets cold.


Progress, the kind that means I can be single at 36 and no one dares use the word "spinster" in my presence. 

My family.  Always, ever, forever, my family.

My education and all the places that it's taken me.

Snow days.

That I can still play volleyball, even 15 years out of college and several (ok, many) pounds later. 

Did I mention contact lenses?

In case you haven't guessed it, today is "I'm Thankful for..." day in the Arkansas Women Bloggers ThanksBlogging challenge.  There are some fun blogging ladies over there - head on over and check them out.  

Now, since we've being thankful, let's get serious for a moment.  This past Sunday, at work, I watched a theatrical play called Letters Home, created by the Griffen Theatre in Chicago - a simple and beautifully constructed piece of theater that, unlike a lot of what we present, had no song, no dance, no sequins, no jazz hands, no beer sales and very little pretense.  It was created from real letters...from real soldiers.

There were too many touching and emotional stories in the play for me to recount.  But there was one, about midway through the show, that took my heart and tore a piece off that I won't get back.  It was a thoughtful, intelligent, profound example of a human being, Mark Daily, trying to make sense of war.  Moments after the actor finished speaking, and turned on his heel to leave the light, words flashed on the screen telling us that Mark Daily was killed by an IED on January 7, 2007, in Iraq.

I'd been teary for most of the play; I always am when soldiers are involved.  But after that, I was a wet-faced, sniveling mess. 

I'm thankful for Mark Daily, and his thoughts, and the impact he's made - this article about him is well worth the read if you have a few minutes.

I'm thankful for theater that is brave and noble and so very difficult to sell.

I'm thankful for my colleagues at work, who were given ample chances to cancel this show because it wasn't selling, and because we would (and did) lose money on it; every single one of them said "I want us to do this show.  I don't care if the house is small.  I want us to do it."

I'm thankful for my sister-in-law, deployed on a Navy frigate as I write this, and my brother who sent her on her way even though they'd been married less than a year.   They are in my heart every day, and there are thousands of families like them out there that I am grateful for.

I'm thankful for a comfortable, safe, blessed life.

I guess I'm just...thankful.  And trying to remember to stay that way.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ewoks, family and college roommates

This is day two of the Arkansas Women Bloggers ThanksBlogging challenge.  Today's topic - Thanksgiving memories.

Oh, there are so many Thanksgiving memories.  Some good, some not so much.

In the not so much category I give you the Thanksgiving where I broke down crying over a political disagreement with my parents; after that we don't don't talk politics much in my family anymore.  Then there was the year that I was going to meet my brother's girlfriend and on our way to dinner, her cat died.  ***sad face***  Luckily, we survived that traumatic introduction and she and my bro are now happily married.

Then there are the great memories, which thankfully far outweigh the bad.  There was the year in my youth when it snowed nearly two feet and all us cousins spent the night playing Ewoks on the hill in the backyard.   That hill was huge back then, and dangerously steep.  A couple of summers ago I realized it was only about 15-20 feet long, and gently sloping.

There was Thanksgiving in Geneva, and that year when I learned the delights of Miller Lite and cheese curds at a cabin in the wilds of Wisconsin during grad school (the first time I've ever had someone say they thought I was fooling around with a married man - that's a long and funny story that will stay untold).

And there was that year in college when my roommates came home with me and we explored lovely NH (I had to take a picture of these glossy pictures which I extracted from my actual physical photo album):

Yes, that's me in the top photo with long, long curly hair.  In fact, the three of us pictured above were probably 90% of the curly-haired population at Colby.

Anyway, I love these memories, and all the years of just eating, watching football, playing football and being together.  The thing I love most about Thanksgiving, overall, is how it's always been a hodge-podge of people - either friends or family, or a mix of the two.

Plus, there's always Stove Top stuffing (don't judge).  Some turkey, too, and some potatoes and stuff, but really, it's all about the stuffing. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thankful for two feet, two eyes, and an IPhone.

I'll be honest, y'all.  The last Arkansas Women Bloggers challenge almost tipped me over the edge.  I did it, but my posts suffered from that week being one of my busiest ever, and while I enjoyed it, it definitely added a layer of stress.

So it's with a sigh of relief that I arrived home today and realized that I actually have time to fully participate in this month's "ThanksBlogging" challenge

So let's begin!
Clockwise L to R; Portland, OR (2), Fayetteville, La Jolla
Challenge One is to share some photos of things we're thankful for, and try to "spice up" those photos with free online tools like PicMonkey.  For the record, I played with PicMonkey, and the collages in this post came from it, but I'm not sure I'll use it again.  The issues I had with it are more about me than the program.  They definitely taught me something about myself; it seems I really, really like the composition of my own photos.  Lest you think I'm a total jackass, let me clarify.

I love photography.  In high school, one of my favorite places was the darkroom, where I learned the now old school art of mixing chemicals, burning and dodging, and using wooden pins to hang photos on the drying line.  My teacher, Mr. Swedberg, said I had a good eye.

Fast forward to now, and to my trusty IPhone, which has chronicled my life in the recent past.  I've lost all formal photography skills, and while I'm considering getting a DSLR camera and getting back into a little more "real" photography, I'm generally content to snap photos of my life and then edit them using a combination of my IPhone, a fun free ap called Camera Bag, another called Simply HDR ($.99) and my MacBook's built in IPhoto program (I have turned terrible photos into decent ones with these basic tools). I may be one of the only people in the world who doesn't use instagram.  :)

Anyway, the collages featured here are some of my favorite shots of the last few years.
Clockwise L to R: San Antonio, Fayetteville, Los Angeles, Rocky Mountain National Park, La Jolla

That said, PicMonkey (in the few moments I had to play with it) automatically cropped my photos, and boy, did that not go over well with control freak me.  I could probably have spent more time playing with it, but patience is not one of my virtues today, apparently. So I'll probably stick to my own brand of editing, but I can see how collage creating would be really fun for someone with fewer issues than yours truly. (And I do wish I'd played with the watermark feature a bit more)

Anyway, now that I've blathered on about me, let's get back to the point of this post, which is to share what I'm thankful for.  You'll gather from the photos above that I've had the travel bug lately, and I am so very grateful to have the health and means to travel, either by foot or by plane, to a beautiful scene, stand tall (or crouch down) and take a photo.  It was Veterans Day yesterday, and I've been thinking  about people who have lost their innocence, time, sanity, limbs, life or, heaven forbid, their family and friends to war, and it makes me so incredibly aware of all that I am blessed with.  That I have the luxury to critique photo aps is quite remarkable, when you really think about it. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Adventures at Lake Sequoyah: A relaxing hike that wasn't

Ah, November.  

Blessed are those days when the election is over, the weekend is here, and there's a new trail to be discovered in my own personal Ozark backyard.  I've been looking forward to finding a new lake to explore, and a facebook post from a friend this morning tipped me to Lake Sequoyah. The trail is called the King Fisher Trail.  It's 3.2 miles out and back.  

Faithful readers of this blog will remember my Lake Wilson adventure last December, where I narrowly escaped being stuck in the woods thanks to a river that was supposed to be a creek.

This adventure began much the same, with me delighting at being in nature, Sadie at my heels, enjoying the incredible fall foliage.  I headed out just before 3:30 pm, thinking that 3.2 miles of a "nature trail" should be achievable before sunset at 5:16 (I checked).  And when I started out, the trail looked like this:

Piece of cake, right? 

Not so much.  About 7 minutes in the trail turned, well, trail-ish, becoming narrower and flanked by thorny plants.  Then it started to get rocky and a bit hilly.  This photo doesn't really show it, but much of the trail is along a ledge looking down at a looooong, steep slope that dead-ends in the water.  When you have a vivid imagination, it isn't too tough to picture yourself tumbling head-over-arse down a hill like this one, never to be seen again. 

And here's the thing about hiking in the fall.  There are leaves EVERYWHERE.  The trail doesn't vanish, but each step is a little adventure in and of itself, because you don't know what's underneath it.  Rock?  Tree root?  Chipmunk? For a gal with a bum left ankle, this creates a need to be ruthlessly focused on my footing.  So I don't spend a lot of time looking at the pretty leaves that are still on the trees.  The dead ones are the ones I care about.

The end result of all of this is that my pace got slower, and around the time I took the picture below, I was starting to think that I might not make it back to the car before the sun went down. 

Remember when I said that you can still see the trail even when the leaves cover it?  I lied.  At what I think was the farthest point in the trail, supposedly a big loop that would head up the hill and then down, I stood in a glen of trees and looked at a forest floor completely blanketed by leaves.  The trail was gone.  I spotted a trail marker way up the hill, headed to it, found another, headed further up, then stopped and looked for another.  By this time, it was 4:16.  And a little bit of fear was starting to kick in. 

I had water.  I had layers.  I had my cell phone, and my dog.  But the idea of navigating this trail (or lack thereof) in the dusk/dark got my heart rate going.  So I struck out down the hill, knowing that the trail was down there and I'd find it eventually.

I found it, and we headed back at a pace that, frankly, risked ankle-rolling. The shadows got longer, the dappled sunlight hitting the ground with less frequency.  Sadie didn't have time to sniff every rock and tree; we were on a mission.  I started to wonder if the flashlight ap on my phone would work if I needed to find my way out in the dark. 

And then, suddenly, civilization appeared.  A farm house, a county road, a car.  The trail widened out and we were within sight of the trailhead.

It was 4:47pm.  A whole 29 minutes before sunset. 

Cue a giant sigh of relief, followed by a rush of feeling like an idiot. I could have absolutely taken more time to enjoy the trail, to have found those other trail markings, taken a few more pictures, and reduced my risk of ankle-rolling.  Sigh.  

As Sadie and I strolled back to the car, I tried to find the bright side to my paranoia.  And I decided that that little edge of fear made me move faster, which got my heart rate up, which burned more calories. 

Yeah.  That's right.  I did it all on purpose to get a better workout. 

Next time, I might just bring a flashlight.  Or hike in the morning.  :)

Monday, November 5, 2012

The post-election utopia

There are only two more days until the presidential election of 2012 will be history.  I categorically (and probably naively) refuse to believe we will caught up in another legal challenge that will drag things out for a few more months.  We're done on Tuesday.  Stick a fork in us, and give us a day or two before you start campaigning for 2014 and 16, okay, political folks?  We've got some healing to do.

What a grand and glorious day it will be when the election is over.  Just imagine what will happen.

Neighbors will speak to one another again, while sharing tasty s'mores melted over the community bonfire fueled by their competing campaign signs.

A flood of talking heads will suddenly need jobs, but they will be snapped up by the growing pychological community hired to try to repair marriages and friendships torn apart by email and social media.

Twitter's servers will get some downtime, and all those programmers will decide it's time to have a meal in a local restaurant with a human being, boosting the economy.

Fewer trees will be killed by political direct mail.  Or, at the very least, only the liberal or conservative trees will be killed, depending on the outcome.

Half the country will seriously consider moving to another country, which will alleviate strains on our roads and other infrastructure, meaning we have to repair potholes less frequently.

All in all, it's going to be awesome.  Unless, of course, your candidate loses.  And then you'll be forced to swallow your anguish as the other side gloats and proclaims that "happy times are here again."

PS: Get out and vote!!  Remember, no matter what color or gender you are, a bunch of people not too long ago fought and died for your right to cast that ballot.