Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Happy *AH-CHOO!* Spring!

Well, surprise, surprise. It’s another warm, sunny day out. Two days in a row. That makes me happy. And the flowers blossoming on the magnolia tree outside my office window also make me happy. So I should probably make my body happy by taking a walk in the park at lunchtime. However, if I do go for a walk, my allergies will kick up and that’ll make me kind of unhappy.

The older I get, the more allergies I seem to develop. Dust? Check. Ragweed? Check. Housecleaning? Check. (Oops. How’d that one get in there?)

I’ve been allergic to "spring grasses" since I was a kid, which is a good catch-all sort of allergy to have, huh? I remember when I was about 8 years old, my friends and I took advantage of the sunny spring day when the grass was all fresh and green. We decided to have a contest to see who could somersault down the front lawn the fastest. The fact that we were heading toward the street didn’t seem to strike us as even slightly dangerous. Guess we figured any neighbors driving along would see three crazy kids rolling down the lawn and would stop if we ended up in a heap in the middle of the road. (This was before cell phones and texting and other distractions, mind you. People usually just drove back then. Imagine that.)

Anyway, I was fine and dandy when I started out, but by the time I reached the curb at the end, my eyes were watering and I could barely breathe because I was so congested. I remember thinking, wow – that cold came on QUICK! Hey, what can I say? Eight-year-olds are not exactly known for their deductive reasoning skills. But that began what was the first of my allergy tests. And the number of things I'm allergic to has only grown over the years.

Fortunately, there have been very few occasions where somersaulting down the front lawn has been required in my adult life; thus, I have not experienced such rapid-onset allergy symptoms.

And the good news is that I’m not allergic to chocolate. Or red wine. Or nuts. I have friends with allergies to all those things and I’m grateful that I can happily indulge – sometimes simultaneously even! No, all I need to do is stay away from ragweed. And pollen. And housecleaning. (Darn. I’m just not gonna get away with that one, am I?!)

Yes, I could take an allergy pill – and I will probably start taking them on a more regular basis now that spring has arrived. But I think I’ve talked myself out of taking a walk in the park at lunchtime. Not that it gets me out of exercise since I’m headed to the gym after work. But I’m just wondering…will it get me out of housecleaning when I get home after that?

“Ah-choo! Sorry, honey…I *sniff, sniff* am feeling allergic. Must be to the housecleaning…!”

Darn. Give it up, Jane. It’s not gonna work…

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Fine Art of Blogging. Subtitle: False Advertising – Is It A Good or Bad Idea?



The other day when I was out for the afternoon with some friends, my husband created a Fan Page for me on Facebook for my blogs. Vince is my biggest fan and bestest supporter and is trying to promote my writing, so he figured a Fan Page was the next step in my “evolution.”

The thing is, I’m not entirely sure I understand the benefit of having a Fan Page where my blogs appear, a Facebook profile where my blogs also show up AND a blogger.com page where my blogs are created. Isn’t that a tiny bit of overkill?

I’m not exactly technologically gifted, so I’m not sure how it all works anyway. When I press “publish” it publishes. If I press “share to Facebook” it shares. But that’s about as far as I’ve gotten. And I think I’m lucky to have figured out that much, which I generally do with fingers crossed.

So when it came time to posting my first blog on my Fan Page, I wasn’t sure how to do it. I ended up posting it on there at least twice. Oh well. In time I’m sure I’ll figure it out. After all, there was once upon a time when ‘tweeting’ was something only birds did, and if you’d said the word ‘blog’ to me, I’d have thought you were clearing your throat – a little rudely, I might add.

Now the funny thing about Vince creating my fan page was that he posted a photo of me that wasn’t half bad. But it was from 25 years ago! Talk about false advertising. Not that I wouldn’t like to keep that particular picture up on my Page, but c’mon – people DO know how old I am and what I look like. And I certainly don’t look like that anymore. Where’s the sagging and drooping? Where are the wrinkles and my “mean line”? (It’s really a “squint line” between my eyes, but I always call it my mean line. Probably I should find a different name for it.)

Vince was getting all sorts of compliments from folks saying how great I looked, and about how they liked my “new” hairstyle. Yeah, like that’s the reason I looked so good. So I asked him to change the photo. I mean, let’s say I meet someone for the first time and the only image they have of me in their head is a photo from 25 years ago. Can you picture the look of shock on their face when they meet me for real?

I always laugh when I read how old celebrities are. At some point in their early career, they’re truthful about their age. But as the years go by, they start getting younger and younger. Eventually, I’ll see a listing of their birthday and I’ll think Hey! You and I are the same age – how did you suddenly become 5 years younger?! Who ya think you’re foolin’?! On the other hand, I suppose it works for some of them, especially since it’s their job to look young and fabulous. They have the money for Botox and surgical enhancements and facelifts, oh my! They also can afford personal chefs and can spend hours every day in the gym to keep their youthful figures.

Well, more power to ‘em, but I still say there is really no way of turning back the clock. Even with Botox and surgical enhancements and facelifts, people can’t possibly look like they did at 25.

So I guess we’ll just stick with my current photo and hope that people aren’t too shocked at the disparity between the “Before” and “After” photos.

Of course, if I don’t figure out how the whole posting to my Fan Page thing works, we won’t have to worry about it.

Okay, now…fingers crossed…time to go press “Share to Facebook.”

Monday, March 29, 2010

20/20? Not Even Close!


You know it’s a bad day when your eye doctor tells you, “Wow, your eyesight is bad…I don’t come across very many people with such poor vision – it’s even worse than mine!” I wanted to tell him, “Gee, thanks, doc – that’s encouraging. How ‘bout you just examine my eyes and leave off the running commentary?” But I didn’t. Mostly because I didn’t want him gleefully giving me an extra puff of air when he does that one test that tests…well, I’m not sure what it tests. But I don’t really like people blowing air directly into my eyes under the best of circumstances – so I kept quiet. And I only got one air blast per eye, so I figured that was reward enough.

My vision has changed yet again from last year, which is to say it has gotten worse. The good news is that I get a new pair of eyeglasses out of the deal. That bad news is that glasses with my prescription cost money. A lot of money. Not only am I extremely nearsighted, but I’m also extremely astigmatic. Not to mention that I’m dealing with the whole presby…something – the fancy word for “old eyes” where you need the bifocal thing. Great.

Gone are the days I can get by with much cheaper “single vision lenses.” Plus, my glasses used to function simply as back-up for when I finally took my contact lenses out and wanted to see at night. I didn’t have to replace them every year and didn’t care so much if they weren’t the latest and greatest style.

As I’ve gotten older, I’m finding my vision to be a big pain. I can’t wear hard gas permeable contacts with the ease and comfort of my youth, so I’ve resorted to soft contacts for astigmatism. This means basically that I pay a lot more for my contacts, too. And I can only keep them in my eyes for a few hours before it looks like I’ve pulled an all-nighter and I’ve got so many red squiggles in my eyes that I could be the “before” picture for a Clear Eyes ad.

So I’ve taken to wearing my glasses most of the time. In the morning when I get up, the first thing I do is blindly feel around the night table to locate my glasses. Sometimes at night I leave them on the bathroom counter, which must be a joke I’m playing on myself because I won’t remember putting them there and will be searching for them on the bedside table in the morning. There have even been mornings when I think I must have knocked them off the bedside table, so I’m crawling around on the floor trying to feel for glasses that aren’t there. It’s probably amusing to watch, but Vince is smart enough not to laugh at me.

If you’re old enough to be presbyopic, you probably remember Mister Magoo, the little cartoon guy who could barely see and got into all sorts of trouble because of his poor vision? Yeah, that’s pretty much what I look like searching for those damn glasses!

I’d get that Lasik surgery if I was (a) braver, and (b) really thought it would do me some good. With my ever-changing prescription, though, I don’t think it’s a good idea. It’s not like they could keep Lasik-ing me every year, nor could I order a stronger set of eyes. Of course, if I could order new eyes, I’d probably want some that were the latest and greatest style. Which means that I’d want a pair that could see 20/20 without correction. And preferably without the red squiggles – after all this money I’ve spent over the years on glasses and contacts, I can’t really afford the Clear Eyes.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Go Pin Panthers, Go!

It’s Sunday afternoon and you know what that means…

Well, okay, so it could mean different things to different people. For me, it means I’ve gotta go bowling in a couple hours.

Yep, I’m bowling on the Ski Club bowling league this year. My team is the Pin Panthers. Cute, huh? I have to credit my teammate Patty for that inspiration. We even got those old fashioned bowling shirts with our team name on the back, a Pink Panther patch on the front and our names stitched on the left front pocket. We look like official bowlers even. Kind of. ‘Til we start bowling.

No, I’m just kidding. My team has done pretty well this year – the last time I saw the league standings list, I believe we were in 3rd place in our division. That’s a little surprising with me in the mix since I’m one of those people who can bowl a 135 one game, and an 88 the next. Yeesh. Talk about inconsistent.

Of course, I’m not really a “bowler,” per se. All I know about the game is that I’m supposed to throw a ball at a bunch of pins at the other end of the lane. And don’t ask me what a curve ball is – I couldn’t manage to throw one to save my life. I’ve seen people do it and I marvel at how it looks like the ball is headed for the gutter, only to curve at the last possible moment, hit the head pin and knock all the rest of the pins down.

Yeah, I’m lucky if the ball meanders relatively straight down the center of the lane and doesn’t cause a split. ‘Cause there’s no possible way I’d manage to knock down two pins on opposite ends. If I get a split, what usually happens is I throw the ball down the middle hitting neither pin, and when I turn around, all my teammates are holding both arms straight up in the air in a “goalpost” gesture. Funny, guys…as if my humiliation isn’t enough.

No, I never really learned the fine art of bowling. As a kid, one of our few pastimes in Alliance was heading to the Parkway Lanes bowling alley where my friend Diana’s mom worked in the lounge area. Not that it helped us snag any free beer since we were underage and anyway we didn’t do bad things like underage drinking. We did bowl a lot, though. I just never learned what it was exactly I was supposed to be doing to knock those pins down on a regular basis.

As an adult bowler, I’ve learned that beer helps. A lot. Mostly it helps me forget the aches and pains I experience when bowling. Or maybe it’s just the pain I experience when I bowl an 88.

One time I bowled a 231. I swear, I did – I even had witnesses! And I received a watch from the USBC – the United States Bowling Congress – for bowling 100 pins over my average. (Apparently, this token is so I can prove that I bowled well once.) But don’t ask me what I did differently that game that gave me such a great score. Maybe I drank a lot of extra beer that day? I don’t know, but what I DO know is that if I could bowl a 231 once, I should be able to do it again.

Hope springs eternal.

Anyway, the fortunate thing about the Pin Panthers is that we bowl for fun. Nobody expects me to bowl a 231. Believe me, they’d rejoice if I did – but they don’t expect it. And they don’t pick on me (too much) when I bowl an 88.

So here’s hoping for a good night of bowling. Now, who’s gonna buy the first pitcher?!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Spring in Ohio


Okay, I get that I live in Ohio and we can expect at least one more snowfall after the calendar tells us plainly it’s SPRING. So I wasn’t too concerned when the weather report indicated we’d have an inch or two of snow on the ground when we woke up this morning. Actually, there was nearly that much before we went to bed last night, but I didn’t think there would be much more today.

There wasn’t. But there was ice. Now that’s a different story. Ice makes me flippin’ nervous!

I left at my normal time this morning thinking that it was warming up and the sun was out, so any snow or ice would be melting and I’d be okay. Not only that, but some of the schools are out for spring break and traffic has been lighter all week.

Silly optimistic me. It took me an hour and a half to drive what normally takes 20-25 minutes.

My first clue that the morning commute was not going to run smoothly was before I even got out of the subdivision when the truck in front of me couldn’t make it up the little incline at the cross street to make his turn. He gave it a good try but his wheels kept spinning on the ice. I backed up to give him room to get a running head start, which helped, but he did not make a pretty left turn. At least he didn’t end up in the ditch. I would’ve been required to help. I mean, you can’t watch someone drive into a ditch without offering some sort of assistance – right?

Fortunately, he went on his way and I turned right without a problem (yay front wheel drive!), but the next challenge was making it over the railroad tracks ahead. People were stopping ON THE TRACKS to help push other vehicles over the hill so they could slide down the other side. I didn’t require a push, thank God, but I did slide a bit.

By this point, I knew I was not going to make it to work on time, so being the good employee that I am, I called in to report my tardiness. (Yes, we could debate that a truly good employee would’ve left earlier, but…um…no…we’re not going to debate that point.) Nevertheless, I was looking forward to getting to the freeway where I was sure traffic would be moving normally.

When will I learn? Traffic was at a standstill before I even got off the exit, which is one of those moments you realize you probably should’ve made a different routing decision, but it’s now too late.

I saw one guy pulled off the road reading his newspaper, which I thought was an excellent idea, but I figured if I did the same, some errant driver would surely plow into the back end of my car.

So I plopped my Bluetooth in my ear and called Vince to have someone to talk to and keep me sane while I sat in traffic. I crept along giving Vince a mile-by-mile (or more accurately, an inch-by-inch) traffic report. Poor guy. He’d answered the phone because he was worried about me, but I’m guessing had he known how our conversation was going to go, he might’ve made another choice and let it go to voicemail.

Nah, he’s a sweetheart. When I thanked him for talking to me the whole time, he said, “That’s my job.” Wow. Again I say, he must not have known what he was getting into when he said “I do.” His answer might have been, “Hmmm…let me think about it and get back to you…!” My mom keeps telling him he’s spoiling me – and I keep telling her to stop telling him that. I think he knows, though, and he keeps doing it anyway. (Yeah, I think I’ll keep him!)

Anyway, I made it to work safe and sound. And I’m cheering on the sun to get to work on whatever snow and ice are left. After all, it’s Friday and I do not want an hour and a half commute home.

Happy Spring…yeahhh…riggght!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Anyone Up for a Little Hula Hoop Action?

So yesterday I was talking about going to the gym and about how gym-going is not my favorite pastime. I do, however, recognize the need for such activity with its subsequent health benefits. I would venture to say, however, that one must work out more than once a week to see any real health benefit. Unfortunately, walking the 30 feet from my car to the office in the morning – and back again every evening – doesn’t really count as actual “exercise.”

Several years ago I joined the gym and became dedicated to working out. I felt great and even looked forward to going. Well, sorta. But once I was in the mode of going to the gym 3-4 days a week, it became a habit. There were even days I was able to drag myself out of bed at 5:30 in the morning to get to the gym by 6AM. After my workout, I’d shower and then head to work to start my day. I liked it, particularly since there weren’t too many people at the gym at 6 o’clock in the morning and I had my pick of treadmills. Plus, I felt good all day.

Working out in the evening was a little tougher, but I almost always felt better afterwards even if I had to drag myself over there mentally kicking and screaming. I’d console myself by saying that I “only” had to do 20 minutes of cardio if I was too tired. But by the time I was into it for 20 minutes, I felt energized enough to keep on going.

Lately I’ve been trying to get back into the more-than-once-a-week workout. How’s that working for me, you ask? Um…slow. Being newly married does make it a little tougher to set my own schedule and revise it on a whim. I need to be considerate of my husband, particularly if he’s at home cooking us dinner. There aren’t many times I’d choose a workout over Vince’s sizzling-on-the-grill flatiron steaks!

It was definitely easier to exercise as a kid. When we were young, we simply “played” outside and didn’t even realize we were exercising. Climbing trees and Hula Hooping and racing up and down the street and riding our bikes all over town were just plain fun.

Turning 16 and managing to snag my driver’s license didn’t really change anything. No one was standing around eagerly waiting to hand me a key to my very own car. So hoofing it around town remained the norm unless I could convince my parents that borrowing their car was imperative. (There was, by the way, really no imperative reason. If bleeding was involved, my parents were happy to drive the wounded to the Emergency Room.)

Sometimes I wish we could get back to those carefree days of our youth, but then I remember stuff like Geometry homework. And having to rely on a chintzy allowance. And being forced to eat liver and onions because "it's good for you, missy, and you'll like it...or else." So I think I’ll stick to the present. Besides, I have my very own car now, thank you very much, and I wouldn’t want to revert to hoofing it. Columbus is way bigger than my old hometown.

And I’m happy to report that Vince and I went for a walk last night, even though I was mentally kicking and screaming the whole way. And, yes, I did feel better afterwards.

Ooh. Looks like I managed to move it up to a twice-a-week workout. Anyone up for three – maybe do a little Hula Hooping? (Mental kicking and screaming optional.)

PS. Oh, and as a grown-up, I haven't eaten liver and onions even once. Yay. It's good to be an adult.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Exercise is Not for the Weak

I went to the gym last night for the first time in a week and let me tell you, it was tough! Big surprise, huh? If working out was easy, we’d all be doing it on a regular basis. Hmmm…what a concept!

I managed to put in a full hour with 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes on the weight machines, but the whole time I was sweating and grumbling to myself I was wishing I was sitting on the couch with Vince noshing on pita chips and sipping an adult beverage.

I am not one of those people who naturally enjoy exercise. It’s hard for me to believe, but there are actually people out there who like it. They cannot imagine letting a day go by without running or biking or sweating in some form or another. I don’t like to sweat. Yuck. That’s why my preferred form of exercise is swimming laps in a pool. You don’t realize you’re sweating because you’re already wet.

Sadly, the gym I attend these days has a tiny kidney shaped pool whose primary function is to accommodate water aerobics classes. I’ve seen people swim laps in it, but I figure they must be a lot shorter than I am. The one time I attempted to swim laps in that pool, I got in about five and a half strokes before my left hand smacked the tiles. And when I lifted my head to take a breath, my face came in direct contact with the wall. I don’t know about you, but knuckle and/or facial bruising are not exactly incentives to get me back into that pool.

And, yes, I could take the water aerobics classes but I don’t for two reasons: 1) there must be a lot of other women who don’t like to sweat either because those classes are jam-packed, and 2) the acoustics in a pool are horrible and as a half-deaf person I can never hear the instructor. Thus, I am the person turning left and kicking when everyone else is turning right and stretching. It might look amusing, but it’s really more embarrassing than anything. Especially when I kick the lady to my left in the knee. As you can imagine, I've had to apologize a lot in water aerobics classes.

Not only that, but there is also the vision problem. I mostly wear glasses these days since wearing contacts is a pain and I am, as my mother says, hiding Mother Nature’s Little Gifts (wrinkles). Wearing glasses in a pool in which splashing is involved just doesn’t make sense.

So I have resigned myself to sweating on the treadmill. Or the stationary bike. Or the elliptical. Now if I could only use those machines while noshing on pita chips and sipping an adult beverage, perhaps I wouldn’t mind sweating nearly as much. Hmmm…now there’s a concept!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Reformed Spelling & Grammar Queen? Nahhh…

So I was re-reading one of my blogs and – gasp – I saw two typos! In the same blog. I was immediately horrified and quickly hit the “EDIT” key to correct the mistakes. And now I’m wondering: to whom should I return my Spelling & Grammar Queen crown?

Yes, I take spelling and grammar seriously. Always have. Even in these days of texting and tweeting I make every attempt to check my spelling and grammar before pressing “SEND.” Someone might text “where u at?” (extra annoying), or “r u bak fr vaca?” and I will respond, “I am at work. Did you need something?” or “Yes, we’ve returned. We will call you later.”

It takes longer to text such complete sentences, but I think it’s worth it. I read fast and I don’t want to take time to decode and decipher messages. Yes, I’m a spelling and grammar snob. I admit it. First step, right? However, there doesn’t seem to be a support group for people like me. Maybe I should start a chapter. I can’t seem to help it, though. I pass judgment on people who don’t get the to/too/two thing or the difference between there, their and they’re.

I’m not quite sure why people write so badly these days. Are they lazy? Indifferent? Do they even know proper spelling and grammar? I don’t know the answer, but I have to say that it bugs me.

Am I perfect? Of course not, despite Vince’s assertion that I must think I am. (Ha. He’s SO funny, isn’t he?) I’ve decided that I must have missed an important class in grade school on the use of personal pronouns because I frequently mess up the “I” vs. “me” thing. This causes me to rewrite sentences entirely because I don’t want to be wrong or, even worse, corrected.

And were I to edit these blogs beyond superficially, I would have to haul out my red pen big time because I know I write sloppily. I leave subjects off of sentences, I misspell some words (most of the time on purpose, mind you!), use slang to excess and use shortcuts like ellipses to a fault. Oh, and I’m trying very, very hard to leave the word “very” out of my writing as well as my overuse of exclamation points after every sentence! It’s annoying! Really, I swear it is!

In business writing, I tend to be formal and precise. There are no “gonna’s” or “gotcha’s” to be found. I suspect, however, that I’m living in a world where we are becoming more and more informal and shortcuts like LOL and IDK and JK don’t even have to be explained anymore. Maybe it’s all because of Twitter? When you only have 140 characters per tweet, you have to use shortcuts. I am not, by the way, good at Twitter. Only 140 characters - are you kidding me?!

Oh, never mind. I’m not gonna win this one. Maybe I need to lighten up and go wit’ the flow, baby.

So…who do I turn my Spelling & Grammar Queen crown into? (LOL. Yeah…it’s buggin’ me! Very much!)

Let's you and I (me?) just fuggedaboudit, okay?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Weekend Update

Our weekend passed by in a dizzy blur of new cars, menus, friends’ faces and NCAA game upsets. Yes, we were busy and didn’t have much of a chance to relax. But that’s okay because we enjoyed ourselves. And that’s rather the point of the weekend, isn’t it? Okay, so it’s also an opportunity to catch up on things like laundry and housework, but we don’t need to discuss our failings and shortcomings, do we?

A generous friend gave Vince complimentary tickets to the Columbus Auto Show so we went Friday night after work. We wandered around looking at both new cars and classic cars on display. We picked up some brochures and even sat in a few of the new cars to see how well they “fit” and to catch a whiff of that new car smell. Some of them fit really well and had a whole lot of cool new bells and whistles, but I’m not sure why I bothered sitting in any of them as I just paid off my Mazda 6 and have no intention of getting into another car payment anytime soon.

Perhaps it was an opportunity for me to realize that the purpose of my vehicle is to get me from Point A to Point B and not to serve as a trash receptacle. I looked at the interior of my car this morning and hung my head in shame. I have magazines and catalogues and books for those reading emergencies that are sure to crop up while I’m waiting at a red light. I also have miscellaneous jackets, mismatched shoes and a couple errant gym socks for those clothing occasions when I might want to dress like a wrinkled bag lady with two left shoes. And there are enough long blonde hairs that have fallen out of my head and onto the carpeting that will surely clog any commercial vacuum cleaner the next time I try to suck it all up in an attempt to make my vehicle a little more presentable.

Why did I bother purchasing a nice car if I’m going to treat it like a big junk drawer on wheels? Now that Spring has officially arrived, I’ll have to add “major auto cleaning and renovation” to my list of Spring Cleaning chores. Yeah, I’ll get right on that – right after I check off “Rent Dumpster” from the list and hit the store for bottles of every imaginable cleaner and disinfectant. I might even spring for that “new car smell” scent that you spray in the car to fool any passengers into believing the vehicle isn’t really old and hopelessly out of date. (“Ahh, LOVE that new car smell! But…wait a minute. Where’s the GPS system and keyless starter? Hey! This isn’t a new car!”)

Fortunately, I didn’t spend too much time this weekend dwelling on the growing list of chores I must tackle in the not-too-distant future. Instead, we met a lot of different friends out for a lot of different meals. It was a great opportunity to see people we hadn’t seen in a while and catch up on each other’s lives. It also meant we spent very little time in the kitchen either preparing food or cleaning up afterwards, which was a nice bonus. I do not, however, wish to think about the budget-busting aspect of all those restaurant tabs. We’ll just chalk it up to an unusual number of social opportunities and plan on raiding our own cupboards this week to get back on track with our budget.

While we were at dinner Saturday night we heard a great roar from the crowd at the bar and thought there was either another natural disaster occurring somewhere in the world or the Health Care Reform Bill passed – or failed (depending on your viewpoint). It was neither – #1 ranked Kansas simply lost to 9th-ranked N. Iowa in an upset of seemingly biblical proportions. As Kansas was my pick to go all the way in the NCAA March Madness, I could have let that loss ruin my weekend. But, as I hadn’t guessed too well up to that point anyway, it was just one more drop in the rankings for me. Currently, Grady the Cat is sixteen spots higher than me on the list. Geez, since I’m losing pretty spectacularly to a cat, I suspect my bracket is headed for the trash. Let’s just hope I can refrain from tossing it in the backseat of my car.

Excuse me, but I’ve got to go. I’m feeling the need to look up the number for Rent-A-Dumpster…

Friday, March 19, 2010

WAKE UP!

I’m happy to say that I’m actually awake today. For the past few days I’ve been in sort of a fog and never really felt like I woke up. This may be because I’ve been waking up at 5AM every morning and then once I realize I’m too early, I fall back asleep only to have my alarm interrupt that good REM sleep an hour and a half later.

By last night after work, I realized I was tired and had a headache and wanted nothing but a nap. So once I arrived home, I immediately stumbled upstairs for said nap. Vince woke me up around 8PM and we managed a semblance of a normal Thursday evening. We had dinner and talked and watched the NCAA games and crossed our lousy picks off our brackets. (Murray State – really? Come on. Be honest now…before this tournament, had you ever even heard of Murray State?)

But I digress.

The time change thing really does temporarily mess with my naturally sunny and cheery disposition. Vince is saying right about now, “Your…what??! I believe I’m going to need additional proof!”

Nah. I’m not that bad, although I do have my cranky moments. Like the other day when Vince innocently asked me, “Hi honey, how was your day?” and I replied, “DON’T TALK TO ME! CAN’T YOU SEE THAT IT’S TOO SUNNY OUT?!?!”

Okay, so that didn’t really happen – I just wanted Vince to see how cranky I really could be if I tried hard enough. Ha ha. And now he’s probably wondering what he has gotten himself into.

There was a moment this morning when it could’ve gone either way. I’d set my alarm to get up an extra 15 minutes early so I could wash, dry and style my hair. As my hair is relatively long, thick and has a mind of its own, this is a complicated undertaking and not a job for the timid. Should hair washing be absolutely necessary and I haven’t allotted enough time in my schedule, I will sport frizzy, unruly hair and I will feel all day as if I need a “do-over.”

So I told Vince I was setting the alarm early and that he should gently remind me I needed to get up once the alarm sounded. I said, “But don’t push me out of bed – you know that pisses me off!” When he asked me what action I would find acceptable, I replied, “Just say ‘hair washing’ and I will immediately get up.”

Poor guy. He must’ve forgotten the magic words because when the alarm went off he started pushing me out of bed. When I grumbled at him, he said (all innocent-like), “I’m just stretching my legs!” Uh huh.

Fortunately, I did get up and I did wash my hair. And it’s not frizzy and unruly today, so I’m happy. But I learned some important lessons here: 1) never ask your husband to gently remind you to get up as he WILL use it as an excuse to push you out of bed, and 2) I should probably start washing my hair in the evening to avoid early wake-up calls and ugly hair.

Oh, and 3) naps are good.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Breakfast of...Champions?

One of the cool things about being married to Vince is that he is incredibly thoughtful and considerate. He gets up every morning and brews coffee and prepares breakfast for us. It might be as simple as a bowl of yogurt or cold cereal, but it might also be as involved as hauling out a pan, firing up the stove and cooking a coupla eggs. Believe me, that’s a vast improvement over my single days when I’d grab a breakfast bar and a can of Diet Coke as I flew out the door.

Now, on occasion, I even allot enough time to come downstairs and give him a hand. Yeah, so the “hand” might only involve putting our vitamins on the table or grabbing spoons from the silverware drawer, but, c’mon….I’ve already admitted that I’m not a morning person. I figure I’m doing well to come downstairs in enough time to sit down at the table and eat breakfast!

This morning I was ready a few minutes earlier and I was able to collect the bowls of cereal from Vince’s hands and transfer them to the table. And, as we said our morning prayer, I looked down and realized that I accidentally put Vince’s bowl of cereal in my place. He just bought a box of some sort of flax cereal. Ugh. That sounds as appetizing as eating a bowl of Styrofoam. Or cardboard.

But, because I’m SUCH an adventurous eater, I figured I’d eat a flake or two just to try them. And, um, no…I can’t claim to have been wrong. They tasted a little like flavorless cardboard. Not that I actually know what cardboard tastes like – unless somewhere in my adventurous baby years I tried it and the taste of it is imprinted on my brain.

As soon as the word “Amen” was out of my mouth, I quickly switched the bowls. Give me some raisins in my bran and I’m a happy person. I suspect that if there were no raisins in my bran, I’d feel the same way – that the bran part of the cereal tasted like flavorless cardboard.

Sigh. It sucks growing up sometimes, doesn’t it? When I was a kid I used to love Fruit Loops and Cap’n Crunch. Well, except the Cap’n Crunch used to tear the heck out of the roof of my mouth. So you had to allow Cap’n Crunch to sit in the milk for the precise amount of time so that they were softer yet retained some of their crispness. Without, of course, being mushy. Mushy Cap’n Crunch was not a good thing.

On the other hand, if you’ve ever tried Fruit Loops or Cap’n Crunch as an adult, you probably realize how nasty it really is. You might as well take the canister of sugar and dump it in a bowl and call it a day.

So I guess for now I’m sticking with Raisin Bran. Maybe in another decade or so and I’ll be eating Flax. Ugh. Or maybe I should save some money and just tear up some cardboard and pour some milk over it. Hey, honey – breakfast is ready!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Top O' The Mornin' To Ye!

I’m wearing green today in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. Sort of. I mean, green is just not in my color palette. I have one top that is green-ish and I’ve worn it a couple years for St. Patty’s Day, but it’s really teetering right on the edge between blue and green. Instead, this morning I opted for a “celery” green jacket, which truthfully also barely qualifies as green. I did, however, accessorize with a true green glass necklace and earrings set that friends brought me back from their recent cruise.

So I think I’m safe from pinching. Maybe I should go out and buy one Kelly green top so I don’t have to go through this angst every St. Patty’s Day. Either that or I could pick up one of those “Kiss Me, I’m Irish!” pins and be done with it.

Ah well. It’s the Irish spirit that counts – right? I do have Irish blood in me, and I’ve been to Ireland, which is a truly lovely (and very green) country, so those should also count in my favor.

I really don’t know why I’m so concerned with wearing green today, because Vince and I don’t even have specific plans this evening. No pub crawls or green beer imbibing plans are in the works. Perhaps we could go to Kroger and pick up some Guinness and a hunk o’ corned beef and make do with Reuben sandwiches and a beer and call it a night? Yeah, that could work. We wouldn’t even have to designate a driver, unless one of us has trouble maneuvering the stairs at the end of the evening. (Yeah, well, the solution to that would be the couch.)

My mom’s side of the family is all Irish, all the time. Many years ago my grandmother was visiting and somehow we started talking about marriage, of all things. As I recall, I was in college and not even dating anyone let alone considering marriage, but that didn’t stop Nanna. She told me I needed to find a nice Irish Catholic boy and marry him and have lots of babies.

Oops. Vince is neither Irish nor Catholic. And, as it took a long time to make a decision, the “lots of babies” thing ain’t happenin’ either. Sorry, Nanna! But I think she would have been happy with my choice and she would’ve loved Vince. She probably would’ve even done the cheek pinching thing, which is apparently a prerequisite for anyone applying to be a tiny white-haired Irish woman.

My Uncle Joe (who was really a cousin, but he was older than my parents, so we weren’t allowed to call him just “Joe”), well, anyway, Uncle Joe used to tell lots of stories about his Irish heritage. And whenever he’d want to curse, but really didn’t want to, he’d say, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph!” So that didn’t count as cursing. But you’d hear the word “Jesus...” coming out of his mouth and you’d think, Uh oh… but then he’d add the “…Mary and Joseph” and you’d think, Whew!

I smile whenever I think of Nanna and Uncle Joe – and all my relatives who are no longer with us. I miss them, but I’d like to think they’re all together up in Heaven having a big ol’ party today in honor of St. Patrick. Wonder if they have green beer in Heaven?

No matter. Whatever you do and however you celebrate, I hope it is with people you care about and who care about you. Be safe. And I’ll leave you with an old Irish Blessing:

May love and laughter light your days,
And warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
Wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
With joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons
Bring the best to you and yours!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Craziness of March Madness

I confess that I know nothing about the whole “March Madness” thing. I don’t follow college basketball all season long. Once in a great while I might accidentally hear if the Buckeyes are having a good season or not. And I tune out discussions about which players are having a good year and which teams may ‘go all the way.’ I’d rather talk about shoe shopping. Hey, I’m a girl; that’s how I roll.

But a few years ago I was asked to join a pick ‘em pool, which is completely random. No studying the stats in order to make educated choices while filling out a bracket. So I agreed to donate a few bucks to join in on the fun.

How it works is 16 people get together for a pick ‘em pool party where we drink beer, eat pizza and randomly draw teams in the north, south, east and west divisions. You get who you get and hope that you have at least one or two teams that are ranked somewhere higher up than, well, last place. It’s all pure luck of the draw.

And I’ve gotta tell you – I did not have good luck this year!

We had our pick ‘em pool party last night. It’s so random that even the sixteen participants’ names are randomly selected for picking order each round.

It’s a bit of a blur now…but all I know for sure is that I ended up with not one – but TWO – 16th ranked teams! That’s last place, folks. You think I have a chance of coming out in the winner’s circle? Yeah, I’m not holding out much hope either.

People started joking about the odds of my picking all last place teams. That might have been statistically interesting and worth a laugh or two, so I’d have been okay with that, but naturally I didn’t pick all LAST place teams.

The third round started and my name was down at the bottom of the pack for picking. I figured it might work out better for me. You know – taking the team that was left. Well, what was left was a 9th place team, which was a big improvement. So I thought I might be on the upswing and get a higher ranked team on my fourth and last pick.

Wrong. My last pick was a 14th place team! All I could do at that point was smile wryly and shake my head. What are the lyrics to that one song – If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all?! Yep, that’s me!!

Oh, but there was a funny/horrifying moment in there. There were a couple participants who weren’t able to attend, so someone else would pick a team from the bowl for them. I hadn’t yet chosen my team, so the bowl was held high over my head so I could blindly choose for the absentee picker. Everyone was laughing and making comments about which team I’d pick. And, yes, for someone else I picked the #1 ranked team! I seriously couldn’t believe it.

Good thing I don’t play Bingo. Or the lottery. Nor do I have a trip to Vegas planned anytime soon. That’s some good luck right there!

The good news is that I spent an enjoyable evening with my friends. We shared some laughs and ate some snacks and had a good time together. And that’s what truly matters, after all. So if luck has anything to do with being blessed with lots of good friends, then I’m one of the luckiest people out there. And I’ll take that sort of luck any day!

And you know what they say – better luck next time!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bring On The FreakBalls

Friday evening was one of those lazy, end-of-the-work-week nights where neither Vince nor I felt like cooking dinner. We didn’t want to order a pizza and we didn’t feel like burgers since we’d just had his famous (or at least infamous) sugar burgers a couple nights before. The salad I’d made for Vince’s lunch two days prior was still in the fridge and we could’ve shared that, I suppose, but we really weren’t in the mood for browning-as-we-speak lettuce and soggy cucumbers.

So we summoned some energy and headed out to grab a bite to eat at a place called “Jed’s Barbeque & Brew” at Crosswoods, http://www.jedsofcolumbus.com/. It was, after all, Friday night and the beginning of the weekend. Par-tay, dude!

Okay, so we didn’t party like a rock star, but we did share a pitcher of beer. And we ordered something called “FreakBalls.”

I kid you not.

I mean, how can you not try something called “FreakBalls” with a menu featuring bizarre offerings like ThunderBalls, FungusBalls, HangoverBalls, and CajunBalls? They do have normal fare of sandwiches, burgers, pizza and the like, but – c’mon – we’re talkin’ Freakballs here!

The good folks at Jed’s must have figured that there were too many places out there selling chicken wings and chicken fingers and chicken nuggets. So they created FireBalls, which are boneless, skinless chicken CHUNKS (see the difference?) dunked in one of their specialty sauces and then arranged on a plate with whatever combination of foods makes up that particular “Ball.” FreakBalls, for example, are chicken chunks with fries and coleslaw all mixed together under a coating of shredded cheese.

Um. Excuse me. I’m feeling the need to go to the gym. Immediately.

Okay, I’m back. Whew! Hopefully that 3-hour session at the gym removed some of the clogging going on in my arteries. (Oh, who am I kidding? I don’t do the gym for 3 hours. Ever.)

Anyway, where were we? Oh, yeah. FreakBalls. I must tell you, they were surprisingly good. Who knew that you could mix chicken chunks, coleslaw and French fries together and they’d be so tasty?

We’re not talking a fine dining experience here, but you know what you’re getting into when you walk into a place with “Barbeque” and “Brew” in the joint’s name.

However, I will say that we enjoyed our experience. The owner/manager was standing in the entranceway as we entered. He greeted us and escorted us to a booth. And the wait staff (all attractive young women, naturally), are friendly, enthusiastic and good at their jobs.

So, while one probably shouldn’t make a regular habit of eating FreakBalls given their high not-so-good-for-you content, an occasional indulgence might be just the thing for a lazy, end-of-the-work-week dinner.

And tonight? Yeah, I’m thinkin’ tonight might be a salad night. No dressing. Maybe even just a single leaf of lettuce. Sigh…oh, the price we pay for a little FreakBall indulgence, eh?

Friday, March 12, 2010

We Have to Do WHAT This Weekend?

It’s Friday, and I’ll be happy about that fact once I’m fully awake. I was up way too early this morning, not because I enthusiastically bounded out of bed to start the day, but because I was cold and shivering. And while I don’t think he’s willing to admit it, Vince stole all the covers. He did. Really. I took a little gander at the bed and realized that I had only one small corner of the comforter and the sheet. So I pulled over some covers – or at least tried to – before they were yanked back with Vince sleepily mumbling, “Now my feet are exposed.” Yeah, whatever. So I thought about the unfairness of the no covers situation, shivered for a while longer, and then gave up and got up.

I did, by the way, survey the lay of the land and the state of the bed before heading toward the bathroom and my morning routine. And, yes, all the covers were over on Vince’s side of the bed.

When I got out of the shower, Vince was already downstairs brewing the coffee, but I noticed he’d jumbled up all the bedclothes toward the middle of the bed. He never does that. I think he thinks he was foolin’ me…but I’m not buyin’, buddy!

Anyway, it made me smile so I just shrugged and then made the bed. There is a slight possibility that I made them just a little uneven with more on MY side to give me a fightin’ chance tomorrow morning, but I don’t think I’ll either confirm or deny those allegations.

But I will say that there are certain advantages to being the maker of the bed!

Fortunately, Vince plied me with enough coffee that I think it’s beginning to do the trick and I’m waking up.

But – oh man! I just realized that we “spring ahead” this weekend and we lose an hour of sleep. Looks like I’m gonna have to go to sleep by sunset to make sure I adjust. Either that or I’ll be building “nap-time” into the schedule this weekend to make up for that lost hour.

Times have certainly changed. In my 20s, the “spring ahead” thing was a pain only because it meant the bars closed an hour earlier and my friend Diana and I lost an hour of dance time. Now I can’t remember the last time I stayed out until the bars closed. Or danced, for that matter.

But that’s okay. I don’t think 20-somethings in the bars want to see a bleary-eyed, sleepy, up-wayyy-past-her-bedtime older person in the bars anyway. They’d be forced to take one look at me and think, hey, that’s what I’m gonna look like in 25 years! Nope, 20-somethings want to think they’ll stay young forever and the aging process only happens to other people. That’s what I thought, anyway. So not true!

But I’m okay with that. After all, there are advantages to getting older. Like no one will be surprised to hear I went to bed at sunset. Or that I took a nap. They may, however, be surprised to hear that I did both.

Gimme some covers, honey, it’s nap time.

Oh, and have a great weekend, everyone. Don’t forget to change your clocks.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

What Happens in Cape Cod Stays in Cape Cod…or…Maybe Not



So yesterday I mentioned my birthday-slash-honeymoon, but I didn’t go into detail. Shocking, I know, given my tendency to write entries that verge on the edge of being called “chapters.”

As I said, four days after Vince and I got married last September, I turned the big 5-0 while we were on our pseudo-honeymoon. I’m not calling it our real honeymoon because, after all, we were in Cape Cod. At my parents’ cottage. With my parents. I mean, who goes on a honeymoon with their mom and dad? See, we’d intended to delay our honeymoon, but my parents thought we could use a few days to relax after all the excitement of the wedding and invited us to drive back with them.

Now, don’t get me wrong; it was a nice trip and we enjoyed ourselves and all, but perhaps not in the way honeymooners are supposed to. (Uh…I’m thinkin’ I’d better move on before I get into trouble.)

My parents understood our wish to have some alone time, so they suggested we take the car and drive down the coast toward Provincetown, spend the night somewhere and then return the following day. (I don’t understand how folks on Cape Cod talk…if you look at a map, it looks like you have to drive sideways and then up. They call that “driving down the Cape.” But I digress.)

Anyway, we thought that was a marvelous idea and decided that my birthday would be a good day to have our little adventure. We planned to well, not plan anything. In other words, we were just going to stop wherever and whenever the mood struck us. If we saw a town that looked interesting, we figured we’d check it out.

So we tossed an overnight bag in the car, planted our sunglasses firmly on our faces and headed out. And we had a wonderful time – eating at an English pub for lunch, stopping in quaint shops along the way, visiting a museum near the National Seashore and meandering around one of the many lighthouses in the area.

We arrived in Provincetown, or P-town as it’s called, near dinnertime. Vince, major-lover-of-seafood that he is, was in his glory. I mean, if there’s any place you can find all the seafood you want, it’s at the tip of Cape Cod. We went to dinner at a restaurant that featured a humongous heaping helping of all things seafood. (Don’t ask me what I ordered – probably chicken. Not a big fan of fish. My New England parents always wondered if they should throw me back.)

After dinner, we tried to walk off all that seafood (and chicken) as we checked out the shops along Commercial Street, but we sort of messed up our exercise plan when we ended up at a place called “The Purple Feather.” We had to stop, though. I mean, first of all, the name of the place immediately drew our attention. And gracing the doorway was a huge stuffed animal gorilla wearing a purple hat and matching feather boa. How could we not stop?!

Let me tell you, the gelato served at the Purple Feather is pretty spectacular, but it also costs a pretty penny! I handed Vince a $10, but it wasn’t enough to cover the check. I’m not even sure if the additional $5 I hauled out of my wallet was enough. But it was my birthday, and we’d had a great day, so we chalked it up to experience. (Yes, it’s always a good idea to read the menu, paying particular attention to the prices.) Nevertheless, we thought it was well worth it and we definitely enjoyed our gelato!

As it was beginning to get dark, we decided it was high time we found a place to stay for the night. Being spontaneous is one thing, sleeping overnight in the car is quite another.

Not being the shy type, Vince struck up a conversation with Peter, the owner of The Purple Feather, and asked him for recommendations on hotels in the area where we might stay. Peter graciously called some of his friends in town who owned or managed inns, and gave us a list of three possibilities.

Vince asked him where he’d stay if he were making the decision and Peter responded, “If it were me, and I was on my honeymoon, and my wife was celebrating her birthday…I’d stay at the Land’s End Inn.” So, even though it was the most expensive of the three, we heeded his great advice.

The manager of Lands End Inn gave us a break on the room rate, and he also brought us a complimentary bottle of wine and some cheese and crackers for our birthday-slash-honeymoon celebration.

It was dark by the time we got there, but when we awoke the next morning, it was to a spectacular sight. We were high up on a bluff that overlooked the ocean on three sides. We took lots of pictures both inside and out, enjoyed a breakfast buffet with the other guests and listened to their stories before reluctantly saying our goodbyes.

So it was a perfect day – and a great way to celebrate a birthday-slash-honeymoon!

PS, If you want to check out either Land's End Inn or The Purple Feather on Facebook, here are the links:
The Purple Feather: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Provincetown-MA/The-Purple-Feather/87224029434?ref=ts
Land's End Inn: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Provincetown-MA/Lands-End-Inn/61625386473?ref=search&sid=736995454.433731795..1&v=wall#!/pages/Provincetown-MA/Lands-End-Inn/61625386473

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ya Gotta Have Friends

Today is my friend Karen’s birthday and, while I won’t tell you how many years young she is, I will tell you we’ve been friends for – wow! – going on 27 years now. (Uh oh, the math is not workin’ here. Looks like I’m gonna have to start fibbing about how long I’ve known some of my friends.) Anyway, she is one of those people for whom I’m very grateful. She’s intelligent, funny, beautiful and has always been there for her family and her friends whether they need a laugh, a shoulder or some helpful advice. I have, personally, benefited from all three, not to mention a cold can of Diet Coke when the situation warranted it.

As the years pass by and that infernal birthday fairy smacks me in the head with her evil aging wand, I take comfort in the knowledge that I have people in my life who remain constant. That is such a joy to me as I value every friend who has touched my life. Even if I don’t talk to them anymore because they’ve moved away or they’ve moved on in a different direction with their lives, I fondly recall those friendships. And I hope those friends look back and think well of me, too.

My last birthday was one of those milestones that was celebrated in a big way. We had a wedding four days before it, which qualified as a major party, but some of my old Ohio State friends didn’t let a little thing like me sitting there in a wedding gown distract them from handing me a chocolate martini before singing me their unique version of “Happy Birthday” and remembering me with a thoughtful gift. They have, after all, been around for a LOT of those birthdays!

Yeah, turning 50 four days after my wedding allows me to say I was married in my 40s. Hey, c’mon – it’s technically true! Whaddya want from a woman who picks an arbitrary age every September and sticks with it. One year I might be 41 and the next year I might be 37. Depends on my mood and how well the ol’ Clinique moisturizer has been workin’ for me.

One person who is also a constant is Vince. He doesn’t care how old I am – he loves me and thinks I’m beautiful. What’s even more wonderful is that he tells me so. He is a true gift from God; one I hadn’t expected to receive in this lifetime. Perhaps I wasn’t makin’ it easy – who can find a woman who turns 41 one year and 37 the next? Whatever the reason, we’re together now and life is good. And I’m extremely grateful.

Hmmm. I started out thinkin’ I was going to tell you about my funny birthday-slash-honeymoon experience in Provincetown, but took a detour somewhere and ended up here.

No matter. Tomorrow is another day and another blog.

In the meantime, have a wonderful birthday, Karen, but don't forget to duck. I think I saw that birthday fairy lurking about with a glint in her eye and an evil wand in her hand.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dude-A-Thon

So a few weeks ago we went to something called a “Dude-A-Thon” at Studio 35, a 1-screen old-fashioned movie theater in town. The movie was The Big Lebowski and events centered around the movie. There were door prizes, Wii bowling and a Bells beer tasting distributed by servers wearing bathrobes.

Prior to that Sunday, the sum total of information I had about The Big Lebowski was that Jeff Bridges was in it and bowling was involved. Turns out he’s a scruffy-looking slacker who calls himself “Dude” and drinks White Russians and hangs out in his bathrobe a lot. There’s a thin plot involving a kidnapping and he and John Goodman get into all sorts of trouble chasing the money. It’s also sort of a cultish movie where people actually shout out the dialogue before the actor says the line, sort of like The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Which would be cool…if I was about half my age and I could hear a little better. Yikes, when did I get so old?!

That’s pretty much all I could think about while the movie was running. People were walking up and down the aisle (heading to the restrooms after all that beer), popcorn was being thrown, and inconsiderate jerks were talking so loud that no one could really hear the movie. Maybe the movie wasn’t really the point, I don’t know. Or maybe I should’ve watched the movie prior to attending something called a Dude-A-Thon so I could be “in” on it. Or, perhaps I’ve just moved beyond such events and there truly is an expiration date on activities a person can enjoy depending on the age of said person.

When I was a college student at Ohio State, we loved drinking beer at 10 o’clock in the morning and then heading over to the stadium to watch the Buckeyes kick some football booty. Looking back on it, I guess I didn’t really pay too much attention to the games – mostly because we spent so much time in the restrooms. Last November Vince and I went to the Ohio State vs. Iowa game and didn’t drink a single beer all day. Not that I don’t mind a good beer once in a while, but it was sure nice not having to get up once to hit the Ladies’ Room!

So there we were at the Dude-A-Thon and when the movie ended, the house lights came back up, and the place emptied out, I looked around and all I could think about was how much work it was going to take to clean up the place! And, frankly, I was extremely grateful it wasn’t my responsibility.

I guess we all have to grow up sometime, huh? Maybe it just takes guys who call themselves “Dude” a little longer...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Here Comes the Sun!

What an absolutely beautiful weekend! It was wonderfully sunny and, considering it was the first week in March, temperatures were relatively warm and mild. It was a perfect weekend for car washing (yet mine is still salt-encrusted), taking a long walk while dodging the last of the piles of snow (didn’t happen…although as I was tired of dodging the piles of laundry, I did manage to wash several loads), and…attending a cookout. Ding, ding, ding! Managed one outta three.

Yes, Vince and I attended a cookout yesterday on the first Sunday in March. Only in Ohio, right?

Our friends from church, Pam and Tom, had a cookout. This gathering was born out of necessity as their freezer suffered temporary insanity and decided to thaw the yummy steaks therein. Not wanting to allow all those steaks to go to waste, they opened their house to a group of hungry folks with a hankerin’ for T-bones. And it was a delightful day chatting with and getting to know some new friends. Plus, it was the perfect weather for holding a cookout. Not a cloud in the sky or a snowflake to be seen. I’m sure Tom appreciated the ‘balmy’ weather as he was the one manning the grill and he wasn’t forced to wear a parka.

Vince and I even stood outside on their deck enjoying the sunshine…until the smoke from the grill drove us back inside. But that’s where the wine was, so it was all good. Someone joked that the smell of all those sizzling steaks would entice the customers away from the restaurant across the street, but we didn’t notice any hungry strangers standing in line in the kitchen holding out plates awaiting thick, juicy steaks!

Impromptu parties are sometimes the best, aren’t they? You don’t have to spend a lot of time worrying about the state of your carpeting – is it pristine enough for guests or will they notice that dirty spot over in the corner? Nor must you worry about whether or not you have the perfect sides to go with your main course. You just invite folks over and they bring stuff. Works out great!

But now the weekend is over and it’s back to work for me. Ah, but we’ve been blessed with yet another sunny and relatively warm day. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get ambitious and wash my salt-encrusted car. Or I could even go for a walk while dodging the last of the piles of snow. All I know is that I should take advantage of the day as this IS Ohio. We could have another snowstorm tomorrow.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Friday, March 5, 2010

We Will…We Will…Rock You!

When I went to Ohio State (seemingly a million years ago), two of our friends named Doug and Dino formed a duo with the extremely creative name of, well, Doug & Dino. They played guitar, banjo and keyboard and wrote a lot of their own songs and we had so much fun hanging out at whichever campus bar they appeared. We knew all the songs word for word and would sing along and drink beer and, as we spent time together, we formed friendships that are still going strong and seem destined to last our lifetimes.

Dino went on to fame and fortune as a comic and morning radio host on Sunny 95 among his many other talents, which I won’t detail here as this is not his official bio (!), and Doug moved to sunny Florida (smart guy!), and works as a commercial producer for a local cable company and occasionally performs with an orchestra where he channels his inner Frank Sinatra.

Well, last night Vince and I went to India Oak, which is a local watering hole reminiscent of a campus bar where the duo Mark & Amos appear on Thursdays at 6PM. Mark plays guitar and sings and Amos plays bongos and sings backup. They play songs that we can’t help but sing along to and it’s a thoroughly enjoyable evening. We drink beer and eat Italian subs and chat with other locals sitting at the bar.

We heard about the place from Mark Dantzer, coincidentally also a morning radio host on The New Mix, 107.9. Mark was the DJ for our wedding almost 6 months ago (we’re 1 day shy of our six-month anniversary. Yay! Let the honeymoon continue!). Anyway, we think he’s a great guy and really enjoy talking with him and listening while he and Amos entertain themselves as much as they do the other patrons in the bar.

While India Oak has sort of the same vibe as those campus bars we hung out at a million years ago, it’s a little different. For one thing, we’re not 21 any longer and can’t blow off Friday. I don’t think our employers would be quite as indulgent as our college professors had no choice but to be.

Another difference is that Doug & Dino played ‘til the bar closed at 2AM – and we left the bar debating whose place was closest so we could continue the party. Mark & Amos finish up at 9PM, and, I won’t speak for anyone else, but I was exhausted and ready for bed! (When did that happen?)

Not only that, but it seems to take a whole lot more out of a person after only a coupla beers. This morning I’m sitting here thinking that perhaps a caffeine-laced IV infusion would be the way to go as I definitely need the jolt. The herbal tea that Vince tricked me into drinking this morning doesn’t seem to be doing the, uh, trick.

But it’s Friday and I take solace in the knowledge that I have an entire weekend ahead of me to catch up on my rest if I need it. I suspect that I will somehow recover the closer it gets to 5 o’clock.

Meanwhile, we racked up another evening in the “Fun” category. Thanks, Mark and Amos!

(And thank you, too, Doug and Dino for all those fond memories. I’ll remember ‘em for another million years!)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Good Morning, Sunshine!

I’m in a really good mood today. Why? Well, it could be because I’m having lunch with one of my best old college friends and I’m really looking forward to it. Or it could be because it’s another friend’s birthday today and I’m planning to drop off a funny card and a sweet treat for him, which will hopefully make him smile. (If nothing else, the sugar may give him a happy buzz!)

But mostly I think it’s because it’s sunny this morning. It could be 10 degrees out there, but because it’s sunny out, I’m happy. Even the major potholes that I have to dodge on my morning commute can’t dissuade me from my happy mood.

So I think there’s really something to the scientific theory that some people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I don’t know if I suffer from SAD, but I bet if you ask Vince, he would say I was a lot less grumpy this morning.

As a therapy for people with SAD, there are special light boxes that are supposed to mimic the sun and cause a change in brain chemicals that are linked to mood. Hmmm… Maybe that works for some people, but I’m not so sure it’d work for me.

For Christmas, Vince received something called “NatureBright,” which is a combination light box/morning wake-up system that is supposed to gradually lighten the room so that one awakens “naturally” as with a sunrise. And if that doesn’t work, it also has a killer buzzer guaranteed to blast the sleeper out of bed.

Uh huh, sure. The first time Vince tried the light thing out on me, the room was lit up like a night game at a baseball stadium, but I didn’t move an inch or flip open an eyelid. So, thinking that it must have been too far away from me to bask in the glow of the “morning sunshine,” he moved it even closer toward my face.

This time I noticed it. I mean, how could I not seeing as how my face was getting “sun”burned! And I was not any too happy to see so much light first thing in the freakin’ AM. I jumped out of bed and smacked the snoozer thing. But nothing happened. The room was still light enough to perform surgery. After another couple smacks on the machine without result, I growled at Vince to turn the damn thing off. Then I stalked to the bathroom to begin my morning routine. I left Vince standing in the brightly-lit room with a bewildered look on his face as if he were thinking, but…but…this was supposed to put you in a good mood…?

Do you get the sense that I’m not a morning person? Yeah, that’s pretty much an understatement. And – go figure – that light box has never made another appearance on my bedside table.

I think I’ll take natural sunlight over simulated sunshine any day. Vince is pretty happy about it, too. I mean, on days like today when he greets me with his daily, “Good Morning, Sunshine!” I don’t “harrumph!” back at him. Instead, I smile and civilly reply, “Good morning, honey!”

Yeah…Vince is REALLY looking forward to Spring!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Welcome to WalMART!

My husband’s telephone headset went on the fritz a few days ago and he’s been going through withdrawal. Not from talking any less on the telephone, but from multi-tasking while he’s on the phone. Without a headset, he’s pretty restricted. So I took pity on him last night and headed over to Walmart to pick up a new one. Figured I could stock up on some bland food, too, since neither of us has been feeling terribly well lately. (Fortunately for you, I won’t go into detail!)

As I loaded up the cart with soup, yogurt and sugar-free pudding as well as one hands-free headset, I looked around at the other people in the store. While there were a few interesting customers, none came even close to the photos on the “People of Walmart” website, http://www.peopleofwalmart.com/. Maybe people in Columbus, Ohio, simply don’t wear scary colored multi-hued hair, mullets, hats and sparkly, spangly, furry and barely-there outfits covering bodies that definitely need additional coverage. Either that – or I’m just not there when these characters make an appearance.

There is, however, one character that both Vince and I vividly recall and still talk about. Cecil, the greeter at the Morse Road Walmart, was a nattily dressed older gentleman who greeted each and every person who entered the store with a robust “Welcome to WalMART!” with a funny emphasis on the second syllable. And, as customers walked out of the store, he’d call after them, “Have a nice day!” in a Paul Harvey-ish sort of voice.

Vince, ever the bashful one, immediately walked up to the greeter and started up a conversation. (That’s how we found out his name was Cecil.) Vince shook his hand and told him he was doing a wonderful job and we really appreciated his personable greeting. While chatting with Vince, Cecil never missed a beat and continued to greet customers entering the store or suggesting to departing customers that they have a nice day.

Once in a while you meet someone who is truly good at their job – and Cecil was one of those people. In an earlier life, he may have had a completely different job with a far different set of responsibilities, but he took his greeter job quite seriously and did it very well. And we still remember him to this day, though I do admit that when we say we need to stop at the store, we call it “WalMART” in homage to Cecil. And we smile.

Have a Nice Day!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

It’s All in the Name…

Well, I just created my very own personal blog. It was easier than I thought and I didn’t even have to ask anyone for step-by-step instructions. Naming the thing came next, but that wasn’t the least bit difficult. See, back in the “olden days” I envisioned being a big city writer and having my own column in the newspaper a la Dave Barry. I would do a play on my name and call it “Jane’s Domain” and I would get to write about whatever I wanted whenever I wanted and would get paid big bucks to do it. It’d be like having fun at work and doing what I loved to do.

Hard as it is to believe, editors and publishers weren’t clamoring at my door begging me to be their star columnist, so I relegated my writing skills to snail-mail letters and occasional bursts of creativity in whatever writing project came my way. But now we’re in the middle of the Social Network Era and I can tweet and text and IM and blog to my heart’s content. And I get to name my blog whatever I want.

So why Jane’s Domain? Well, growing up I was frequently called “Jane Domain.” People mis-read the spelling and pronunciation of my last name, and they thought my parents must have had a good sense of humor and named me Jane on purpose to rhyme with my last name.

Actually, the last name is pronounced “Do-mee-an,” but that never stopped anyone from calling me “Jane Domain” even after being corrected. Sometimes people even shortened my last name to Doe. Get it? Yeah, right. It wasn’t that funny to me, either. I’d come back with, “…and my brother’s name is John…” And then I’d make the “ka-chhh” sound of the cymbals after the comedian tells a lame joke. But when they’d laugh, I’d say, “Seriously; it is…”

Getting married in September of ’09 changed all that. I took my husband’s last name and have spent many hours changing my Social Security card and my driver’s license and health insurance card and passport, and…well, you get the idea. I reasoned that his last name is easier to pronounce and spell. Ha. Lately, I’ve been noticing that people spell it “Cordoba” instead of “Cordova” if I’m not watching them with an eagle eye. Sigh. And don’t get me started on the “rich, Corinthian leather” comments said in a bad Ricardo Montalban accent. Perhaps I should’ve held out for someone named “Smith”? Nah, I wouldn’t trade my husband for anything. I’ll just have to live with saying, “V-as-in-Victor…” when spelling my new last name.

However, naming my blog “Jane’s Cordova” just doesn’t quite work, does it? Thus, (drum roll, please!) I warmly welcome you to “Jane’s Domain” – my own little corner of the world where I get to write about whatever I want whenever I want.

Now…where are those big bucks??

Ka-chhh.