Thursday, September 29, 2005

Scarecrow

So, we bought this life-sized whimsical scarecrow last year at the Fall Foliage Festival. It's pretty cute, with a non-scary, smiley face, and a couple of crows sitting on his hat.

We put it in one of the back gardens a couple of weeks ago, and it's been driving me nuts. Every time I look out there, I keep thinking there's someone standing in the back yard. Mary's dogs apparently have the same problem because, when she lets them out, they run over to the fence and bark and bark and bark and bark and...

Tuesday afternoon, after we'd both gotten home from work, I went outside to put some food on the grill. I decided it was nice enough out, and I wanted to just take a bit of a look around to see what plants in our gardens were flowering, which ones were dying back, that sort of thing. I stepped off the patio, and saw the scarecrow laying face down in the grass. I stood staring stupidly at it, thinking about what could have caused it to fall. Didn't see any disturbance on the ground that would indicate it was knocked over, and I was contemplating the weather in the past few days and couldn't remember having had any wind or rain or other weather that would have caused it to topple over.

So, as I'm standing there putting WAYYYY too much thought into how this scarecrow fell over, I heard Lisa come up behind me. I pointed to the scarecrow laying face down in the grass and asked "What's up with that?"

Without missing a beat she replies "I sprayed the lawn with Febreze."

Badump bump.

**Note, if you haven't seen the Febreze commercials, you won't get it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Real Live Woman

I heard this song Real Live Woman by Trisha Yearwood the other day and loved it so much, I had to run out and buy it. THIS is how Lisa makes me feel! THIS is the love I feel coming from her.

I don't buy the lines in magazines
That tell me what I've gotta be
Don't base my life on a movie screen
Don't fit the mold society
Has Planned

I don't need to be 19 years old
Or starve myself for some weight I'm told
Or turn [wo]men's heads down that road
And I thank God I finally know
Just who I am

I ain't a movie star
They never see the view from where they are
And this old town may be as far as I'm goin'
What [s]he'll hold tonight in h[er]is hands
[S]He swears is so much better than
Anything this old world
Can show h[er]im

I'm a real live woman
In love with this [wo]man I see lyin' here next to me
Lost in the way that [s]he's holdin'
This real live woman
In the arms of a [wo]man where I'll fall asleep knowin' there's
Nothin' on earth [s]he loves more than
This real live woman

I work 9-5 and I can't relate
To millionaires who somehow fate
Has smiled upon and fortune made their
Common lives a better place to be

And I no longer justify
Reasons for the way that I behave
I offer no apologies
For the things that I believe and say
And I like it that way

Cause I'm a real live woman
In love with this [wo]man I see lyin' here next to me
Lost in the way that [s]he's holdin'
This real live woman
In the arms of a [wo]man where I'll fall asleep knowin' there's
Nothin' on earth [s]he loves more than
This real live woman



Also, if you're of the mind, and you want to hear a beautiful song, give her Georgia Rain a listen. She has such a beautiful voice and puts such emotion into her singing. It doesn't really matter what she's singing about -- love, loss, life -- it's beautiful.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Bi-Polar Broncos

Can't believe the Broncos actually put a whuppin' on Kansas City last night. I actually picked KC to win in the pool I play in.

Plummer went 13/18 for 152 yards -- hardly a sterling performance, but the team as a whole posted 221 rushing yards, compared to KC's 74. Denver has always had a ground game. Well, not always. I remember the days of Sammy Winder when I used to say that he thought the object of the game was once he got the ball, find as many of the opposing team's jerseys as he can in one spot, then run toward them. That was in Elway's early years. Bobby Humphries looked like he might be the savior, but turned in only mediocre performances as well. Then along came Terrell Davis and, since then, Denver has had the corner on running backs. Portis, Gary, Anderson, Droughns, Bell...

As Chimpy flies into Texas to see what kind of damage Rita did to his beloved oil and gas industry, he tells Americans to "...not drive so much." We're supposed to conserve gas, and not drive unnecessarily. This as he flies over for a look-see. Wonder how much fuel Air Force One consumes. Wonder how much fuel the presidential entourage consumes when he moves from one place to the other?

"Don't do as I do, do as I say." Putz.

Monday, September 26, 2005

NFL, week three

This week, there were actually games to watch. With very few exceptions, the games were close and competitive.

The Colts and the Browns struggled against each other. Makes you wonder if the Colts were tired, or the Browns were fired up. Either way, it was a good game, not the yawner the score seemed to indicate. Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison set records yesterday, with more to be broken on the horizon.

David Akers, kicker for the Eagles, has courage. The guy pulled a hamstring last week during practice and, on the opening kickoff, clearly aggravated it. The kickoff had a penalty and it had to be re-kicked, making Akers fall in writhing agony. They had tight-end Mike Bertrum kick off subsequent to that, but it was an anemic squib kick at best. Mark Simoneau attempted a couple of PATs in Akers' stead, but it was clear that without Akers, it was going to get dicey. In the closing 9 seconds, Akers was called upon to kick a game-winning field goal, and he went out there, kept himself poised, and put it through the middle of the uprights. The poor guy was in tears. The question is, did he say "Coach, I can do it," or did they just tell him "Get in there and do it?" Either way, Akers should not have been in there, proving just how expendable players in the NFL really are. It's all about the win. Look for Akers to be on the injury list for the next week or two, at least. And look for the Eagles to activate the kicker they signed last week.

All that said, I must, however, give props to the Oakland Raiders. They were in that game the whole way. While we had both picked the Eagles in the pool, Lisa and I both found ourselves sort of hoping Oakland would win. Of course, she's a Raiders fan anyway (yes, Raiders and Broncos fans can peacefully co-exist. :-)

In the battle of the bays, Green Bay fell to Tampa Bay after a nearly scoreless second half. Favre and the Packers pulled close but came up shore, scoring only a field goal instead of a much needed touchdown. Green Bay starts the season at 0-3 now. Maybe Favre should have retired when he was contemplating it. Brian Griese, on the other hand, looks and plays like he's very happy in Tampa Bay. John Elway left some very big shoes that a rookie or sophomore just can't be exptected to fill. Also, he didn't seem to have any leadership ability in Denver but has since seemed to develop some under John Gruden. He seems much more sure of himself and he stays in there and gets the job done.

Cincinnati looks like they may be for real this year, clobbering Chicago 24-7. Carsen Palmer looks like he's developing into a notable quarterback, unlike...uh...whatshisname who plays for Chicago.

J.P. Losman and the Bills gave Michael Vick and the Falcons a run for their money, but in the end the Bills' defense gave up too much. Losman had only 75 passing yards but Willis McGahee put up 140 yards against Atlanta's defense. What I do have to say about Buffalo's defense is that they made Michael Vick work for every completion or rushing yard he got. His stats were unimpressive overall, which means the defense did a relatively good job of keeping at least Vick contained.

The Giants lost to San Diego, but I have to say that I am more and more and more impressed with Eli Manning's abilities. He is very poised in the pocket and is not prone to wild throwaways when he sees a blitzing defender coming toward him. The kid threw for 352 yards last night, completing just shy of 60% of his throws. He falls ahead of brother Peyton in total passing yards by almost 100 yards, as well as almost 9 points ahead of big brother in quarterback rating. Not bad for a kid as young as he is.

Statistically, Pittsburgh was due to lose. Roethlisberger couldn't conceivably continue his unbeaten streak as a starter through the remainder of this season. The question was, who was going to ruin his streak? I figured that, coming off a loss last week, if anyone was going to do it, it would be New England. For a while there, it looked like New England was not up to the task but, after half-time, New England came back with a game plan and disposed of Pittsburgh in the final seconds with an Adam Vinatieri field goal. A fiercely competitive game that kept us all on the edges of our seats.

Overall, five games were decided by 3 points or less yesterday, and one game went into overtime -- the Jets and the Jaguars. While the score was close, the game was a yawner as far as I was concerned. It was "just" football.

Had four televisions going yesterday, different games on each one. Of course I got the eye rolls from Lisa, but when pressed, she agreed that it is nice to have these options.

Saturday we sealed both driveways again, for the final time this season. We knew it was going to rain Saturday night but we hoped that we got them sealed early enough that they'd be somewhat dry before the rain started. Anywhere the sun hit them, they dried quite quickly. They look great, but we're all stiff and sore from doing it. The first time they got sealed, it was just me and Mary. This time we had three of us doing it, and it took just about 3½ hours to do both.

We got cleaned up and went to watch my foster sister's boy play pee-wee football under the lights. His team did not win a game last year, but this year have not allowed any opposing team to even score, much less win. By the end of the first quarter, the score was 24-0. By rule, "significant substitution" has to begin and so there was only one more touchdown posted in the fourth quarter, bringing the final score to 32-0. The little guy took a real snotknocker hit, but got right back up and not only successfully blocked the kid who blasted him, but managed to hold up two of them while his running back scampered by for a score. It was a lot of fun -- I said I was reliving Joe's childhood. It was fun watching the little guys play again, but I sure haven't missed the butt-itis from the bleachers.

I finished the rug for Michelle yesterday. Now I have to snip some strands and get them tied off to make it more "finished" looking, and it'll be done. I have one more strip to do on the blanket and then I need to sew it together and that will be done, too.

I've really held back from participation on the CourtTV message board because there is just so much hatred and ignorance that it can really get to a person. So, when it gets really bad, rather than jump into the fray, I just back out of the thread and leave the site or go to another thread. I can't believe how many people just nurture their ignorance, and parrot all the crap they hear from people like Falwell, Robertson and even the Pope. CourtTV allows trolls to hang around. Yeah, they revoke memberships when things get too snarky, but they allow those folks to re-register under different names. Most of these trolls don't bother to hide it, they just add numbers to their user names -- sort of a "red badge of courage" advertisement so everyone can see how many times they've been revoked, I guess.

By contrast, the new home I found on iVillage is much nicer. Since there's no debate, there's no open hostility to be seen. It's nice to be able to share knowledge with other people and to learn from them, too. While we may not agree on which technique or product is best, there's never any argument because it's still a matter of what works for each individual. Sometimes we get way off topic and have a ball, but then we always get back on task. I love it. Don't know why I ever thought that I liked debate boards. People get so entrenched in their own views that they lose sight of the fact that other people don't see the world in the exact same way they do. I'd get sarcastic and snippy and I'd find myself riled up...over a message board on the internet! Rather than get myself banned, I decided it best to move on to something that interested me, that I could participate in, without starting or being involved in an argument. Couldn't go to the lesbian boards so I went to the domestic boards. My blood pressure is much better on them! LOL!

We've got flood warnings again. Lots of rain overnight, but there doesn't seem to be any issues with the roadways or streams to this point. The river is up a bit but that's not unusual after a heavy rain. The river is a bit more manageable because of the canal locks that can be manipulated to compensate for the rising levels. Hopefully, with all this rain, the leaves will soak the moisture in and provide us with our fall colors, rather than just drop off without changing. That seems to be happening a lot -- lots of dead leaves on the ground, but not much color.

While I love the summer time, I love the fall, too, with the beautiful colors and that cool air that puts a little bit of zip in your stride. I wore a long-sleeved t-shirt to the football game Saturday night, and took a light jacket, too. We've been closing some of the windows at night, as it becomes too cool inside after the sun goes down. Makes for good sleeping weather, although we're still running the air conditioner and a fan in our room due to the fact that I'm still having my own private tropical vacation (menopause). Poor Lisa needs an extra blanket these nights because I'm too hot to snuggle up close, and she's too cold without the snuggling.

We've decided that we're going to augment our natural gas heat this winter with wood heat. We have two fireplaces, one up and one down, and we'll use the downstairs one to burn wood, and the upstairs one will have a kerosene heater in it to keep the upstairs relatively warm. With the fireplace going downstairs, the furnace doesn't kick in because the thermostat is down there, and so the upstairs gets very cold. We figure if we use the kerosene heater upstairs, it'll keep us warmer and, if we keep it in the fireplace, we won't have all the black crap all over the walls and ceilings. That's the plan, anyway.

I'm still flying solo at work -- have been since April. The VP hasn't yet decided whether they're going to hire for the position, or allocate the position to another department that might need it more. That leaves me to staff two offices with three people. With four people, we were always limited as to time off, and this limits us even more. It's been very stressful trying to keep up by myself with the work that comes in, and still try to get my administrative tasks accomplished. Since I'm an hourly employee, I've vowed (and informed the powers-that-be) that any extra minute it takes me to get the work done, will be charged as overtime. I'm not going to do it without carefully tracking my time and getting paid appropriately for it. If I don't do that, they'll think one person can handle it here. And trust me...they can't afford to pay me overtime for too long. It would cost them half as much to just hire someone.

Tonight Denver plays Kansas City. I picked KC in the pool. I just don't see Denver pulling it off. Sure, they'll shut down Priest Holmes somewhat, but they can't defend their goal when the other team has a running game and a passing game. On the other hand, Denver's defense is rated ahead of KC's in every category BUT Kansas City's offense is rated 4th against Denver's anemic 17th rank. Look for Denver to go home with another game in the "L" column.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Another summer gone...

Yet another summer has whizzed by faster than the speed of light. 6:30 PM today marks the official end of summer and beginning of fall.

I asked Lisa a couple of nights ago if she feels like we accomplished anything this summer -- anything constructive. While we didn't have any major projects planned, she pointed out that we did get a lot done, even if it was just routine chores.

With the arrival of the zero-turn riding mower, we began mowing Mary's lawn (our neighbor) when we did our own. At first she paid us $20 a pop for doing it, but I felt bad taking money from her so, after the first $100 or so, I proposed that we mow her lawn in exchange for assistance from her in our interior painting and wallpapering projects over the winter. Seemed fair enough to me, and she really liked the idea -- the barter system, if you will.

We purchased five yards of mulch (five separate trips in Lisa's truck) and got that spread over our gardens. If you haven't got a good idea of what 5 yards of mulch looks like, try to imagine a pile of mulch sitting in your driveway that takes up the entire width of the driveway, and standing taller than Shaquille O'Neal. It's a lot of mulch -- but then again, we have a lot of gardens.

And of course, with all those gardens comes weeding. And more weeding. And more weeding.

The first weekend of every month we went over to where Lisa works and did gardening/landscaping/maintenance there as well. We trimmed hedges, pruned shrubs, planted annuals, weeded and weeded and weeded, put down mulch, and trimmed weeds from around the building. We made just a tad under $1,000 so far working there. It helped us pay Lisa's father for the riding mower.

We put in a new garden -- or rather, completely re-did an old one. We found an old iron water pump in an antique store, painted it red, and put it on a pipe above an antique grape box that we planted with annuals. Sedum, mums, shasta daisies, and other perennials finished off the garden. We cut out sod from around the bed and lined it (like a moat) with decorative stone, so that the lawn doesn't encroach on the garden, and we can mow around it easily.

We put in a new garden over at Mary's house, too. She so liked the idea of the stone around the garden that she asked us to do it with hers, too.

Because we had such a problem with our shade garden plantings not coming back due to their roots being eaten by grubs and/or voles, we spent an entire day putting down milky spore in the hopes that next spring, we'll get more things returning.

We didn't get a lot of things accomplished while we were on vacation because it was so hot and humid, but we pitched a tent, put up a screen house, installed sails on the house (to protect the patio from sun) and had a birthday/anniversary party.

We finally got that damned basketball pole and backboard down and Mary asked us if we'd get hers too. So, over to Mary's we went and down came her pole, too. Lisa borrowed a concrete saw from a friend to cut out the concrete that held up the poles so we can fill over the concrete and maybe grow some grass.

We spent an entire weekend on both driveways, too. I took the hose and put it on a jet stream and flushed all the grass and crud out of the cracks that had formed (and believe me, we had gotten to where it was going to be necessary to mow the driveway), while Lisa and Mary filled said cracks with filler. Then we used "top and bond" to smooth over all the patches we made, and seal off the cracks. The following Friday, Mary and I sealed both driveways in their entirety. They still needed work, but we figured to seal them and see how many "sins" that would cover. We spent another Saturday going over the cracks and fills again and both driveways are looking pretty good.

We bought a new shed and installed it ourselves. The carton said "two people, one hour" and, when Lisa looked at her watch, which showed 1:00 PM, she said "We'll still be here at 4:00." She wasn't wrong. But now we can park the rider and the lawn cart in there and take some stress off the garage.

We helped my aunt put in new plantings (shrubs and perennials), too.

And, we got the garage cleaned out so we can park in it once winter sets in. Mary's is next.

So, yeah, I guess we got a lot accomplished over the summer. No wonder it whizzed by so fast.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Gas Roller Coaster

On Monday, I noted with interest that the gas station near where I work had gas prices at $2.86/gallon with a 5 cent per gallon sale. Lisa stopped on her way home to fill up at the place where we always go (we're loyal to this guy because he seems to make an honest effort to keep his prices low) and paid $2.89 (no sale price). But, "John" (the proprietor) told her that it looked like gas prices were going to go back up twenty cents a gallon. Yesterday, that same gas station that was at $2.86 on Monday was at $3.05. Chuck Schumer (D) is pushing hard for legislation to really slam those that are price-gouging, and he wants a consumer hot-line so that people can report gas gouging.

Sixty miles away, in Buffalo, on any given day, you can find gas for a quarter a gallon less than anywhere here where I live. Why is that? It certainly isn't from any big tax bites, because that county charges the same tax as ours -- so what's up with that?

Lisa will be traveling to Louisville next month for a trade show -- she's really excited about it because only the President and GM usually go. She feels like they're "grooming" her for bigger and better things. She'll be gone for 4 days but, unlike previous years, I'm not the least bit upset about her going. It's for the right reasons this time. Before, she accompanied this other putz on the road for training seminars and, while she hauled shit from the truck to the conference room until 1 or 2 in the morning (after driving 12 hours the same day), the "Y" chromosome would be off "coordinating" in the lounge. Add to that the fact that she never got paid any extra...no overtime, no compensatory time, nothing. With this trip next month, she's not going to be a pack mule, she'll be a representative of the company and is really looking forward to it.

In addition to their standard power equipment, they've taken on a line of games. Team Monopoly games, NHL Hockey games, stuff like that. They're all pretty excited about this new product line and it seems to be quite the hit. However, for some reason this insane woman seems to think I'd like an Oakland Raiders Monopoly game. As if.....

While Lisa's gone on her trip to Louisville, I think I'm going to go down and spend a couple or three days with my aunt. She's promised me at least two full days in her sewing room with good company, good music, and no interruptions. Gosh, with that sort of commitment, I could get a ton of knitting done. She quilts and wants to learn to knit. I knit and want to learn to crochet. I guess we all want skills we don't have, eh? She learned to crochet when she was a very young girl but never learned anything beyond the basics. She laughs and says that she's never found a use for an 80 ft. chain. I told her it's all in how you see it and what you call it. That 80 ft. chain could be called a garland, and wrapped around a Christmas tree, for example. Given how small her dog is, it could be called a lead and she could tie her dog out with it.

I hired a student aide this week. She commutes 90 minutes one way each day. She'd had a place lined up here locally but, after the tuition had been paid and everything set, her housing fell through. What's unfortunate is that where she comes from is often very treacherous during the winter months when the temps are below freezing and/or it's snowing. She'd be coming north up along the lake(s) roads and then trying to finish her commute off on the NYS Thruway, which is always on the traffic reports during the winter months with pile-ups and major delays. I told her to keep an overnight bag packed and in her vehicle and, if the weather is bad, she can stay with me. If I was her mother, I wouldn't want her driving along the lakes during a snowstorm. Those roads are twisty, windy, and icy.

I'm just shy of halfway done with that rug now. It's really taking beautiful shape and it looks great. I'm very proud of it. While the picture shows green, I've used black. It's very soft and I'm thinking that I would love to use that same yarn for a sweater or something warm.


This is the blanket I've made (and still need to assemble the strips for). Again, I've used black instead of the picture color.


My knitting troubles my young son. Often when he gets home from work at 8:30 or so, I'll be sitting on the couch, watching TV, and knitting away. He'll shake his head and say "Mom, you're NOT that old!" I can't seem to get through to him that it's not an age thing. Children (boys and girls) are knitting these days. I find it therapeutic, calming, and I'm not sitting and blinking like a toad at the television, wishing I had something, anything to do. I'm also able to make things for gifts -- the rug and blanket are for my oldest daughter. I don't need to buy much else for her -- maybe a gift card to Michaels or something like that, but for the most part, her Christmas gift is all set.

When my birthday rolled around, Joe commented that he had a hard time believing that I'm 50. Well, so do I, but I think he's feeling a bit melancholy. His mother isn't as young and energetic as she once was, she's overweight, has aches and pains, a touch of arthritis in her hands, and I think he's feeling like I'm slipping away from him into that great beyond. We still spend a lot of time together, one-on-one, and I still find him to be a fascinating person to talk to. He goes out to dinner with me occasionally when Lisa's working late or otherwise late coming home. But I also wonder if he's not feeling a bit melancholy about his own youth speeding by as well. He's 22 now and will finish up with his Associates in December. I think he's a bit nervous about the future, especially since he doesn't really have anything he's particularly passionate about, as far as earning a living. He loves so many things, I think it's hard for him to pin them down to anything that he likes better than the rest. That's why a general studies Liberal Arts degree was the best thing for him to pursue. It's a sampling of everything. He's taken meteorology, botany, journalism, communications, Shakespeare, mythology, business, and economics, along with the other core requirements. He's done well in all of them, and could probably make a living doing anything in any of those fields. But none of them stand out enough for him to want to make a commitment to it.

He went to bartending school in February when he was laid off for the winter. Joe has such a great personality that I think he'd make a great bartender. He's personable, has a razor sharp wit, charming, good looking, is very laid back, and loves making drinks for us. He tended bar at my birthday party and had a ball -- did a good job too. There's good money in bartending but, as much as he loves it, he's not sure that's what he wants to do for a living, either. So, I encourage him to pursue whatever interests him for the moment. He's still working at the garden center for $10/hour and putting in nearly full-time hours, and is putting in applications at various bars. He makes decent money, enough to make his truck payment, his insurance payment, and lots left over for whatever. He'll be fine. I've told him more than once that not having a career goal doesn't make him a loser -- it makes him a well-rounded person, a sampler of ALL of life rather than the one corner we all tend to put ourselves in. I adore this young man, even if he does have a "Y" chromosome.

I made 4 phone calls yesterday to churches listed in New Orleans, but got recordings (out of service) on two, nothing but static on one, and the fourth one just rang and rang and rang. Hopefully today I can have better luck. I want to get those clothes down south.

I can't believe what's going on down there. First the mayor "reopens" the city, then backtracks because Hurricane Rita might cause more problems like Katrina did. Add to that the fact that Chimpy is touting his administration's "readiness" for Rita. What does that mean? Now that the horse breeder is no longer director of FEMA, he's going to hire a wedding planner to replace him? Heck, I'm sure wedding planners see a lot of disasters...more than qualifies them to head up FEMA. The fact that someone can spell and use the word "disaster" in a sentence more than qualifies them, in Chimpy's administration. Case in point, his new nominee to head up the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Little no no experience in the area, and she says "I realize that I'm not 80 years old," Myers testified. "I have a few gray hairs, more coming, but I will seek to work with those who are knowledgeable in this area, who know more than I do." Which would be just about anybody.

What is it that these conservatives refuse to see?

Monday, September 19, 2005

NFL, week two

Last night's game between the Chiefs and the Raiders was pretty exciting. Of course, Lisa being a Raiders fan, it's hard for me to hate them as much as I used to, but a little good natured AFC West competition never hurt any household...did it? It looks like Randy Moss actually wants to play football and play well -- perhaps his time in Minnesota had just ended and it was time for him to move on. But, the season's still young, so the jury's still out.

The Vikings seem to be impotent without Moss -- and that's just too bad. I had hoped that they'd do well without him, so as not to feed the arrogant jerk's ego. Lackluster offense, almost nonexistent defense. What the hell happened to them?

Speaking of what the hell happened to them, what the hell happened to the Patriots, Packers and Ravens? Green Bay losing to Cleveland? That's like losing to Jerry's Kids. Yeah, yeah, yeah, Walker is out for the season and he's Favre's favorite target, but aren't there other players on that team? Just like the loss of Moss affected the Vikings dramatically, it looks like the loss of Walker has affected the Packers dramatically. And, frankly, if your entire season rests on the loss of only one player, then you don't have a team that works well together. The bright spot in that game was Favre reaching the 50,000 passing yard mark -- a feat accomplished only by two other quarterbacks; Dan Marino and John Elway. It looks like Favre could pass Elway, but he'll never catch Marino. The Patriots lost a hard-fought battle in Carolina and, like the Raiders, were just about the only other losing team that was actually in the game.

Well, San Diego was actually in the game against Denver, and it was a close game, but it was a boring game, too. Neither team did much of anything and showed lackluster and lethargic efforts on both sides of the ball. Like Brian Griese, Jake Plummer also cannot fill the very large shoes left by John Elway -- not sure anyone can, really. Life in Denver after Elway would never be the same, we all knew that...

Had four televisions set up yesterday to watch the games (hehehe). Lisa says I'm sick, I say I'm getting the best value for our money with the NFL Sunday ticket. What's the point in having it if you're not actually going to watch a lot of games? :-)

Saturday night's movie, Bound, was a hit. Betty and Paula rushed off just after it ended. Guess it was HOT enough for them, too! LOL!

Saturday Mary (our neighbor) and I took a bunch of clothes and stuff we'd gotten together for the hurrican victims down to the mall in the southwestern part of the city. The deal was that there would be 12 transit system buses going down, loaded with stuff. Two were for pets and the rest would contain whatever else for humans. The advertisements said clothes, underwear, bras, socks, etc. so we took that as an invitation to clean out stuff that's been sitting around for endless amounts of time. I had 8 pairs of size 12 jeans (that neither of us can wedge our fat asses into any more) that are in nearly new condition, along with a dozen or so size medium shirts, some still with price tags on them. We had a pretty good sized box full of really good clothes that we had once hoped we had a chance of getting back into but, given the circumstances, we knew we could part with them and if we ever get that small again, it'd be a treat to buy new clothes.

Mary had a ton of stuff. Toilet paper, dog toys, clothes, books, towels, new packages of undies and socks, she went all out. So, we loaded up my RAV4 and off we went. We got there and there were about 6 buses there -- and they were supposed to be leaving Sunday at midnight. We pulled up and, rather that pull stuff out right away, we decided it might be prudent to ask what the procedure was.

We were told that, unless the clothing was new, they wouldn't take it and that it could go in the back of the Salvation Army truck located nearby and that there was no guarantee that it would go to the hurricane victims and, if it did, it would be six months or more before it got there. What was the object of telling people they wanted clothes without saying they wouldn't go to the hurricane victims, I asked. Mary asked them how many new clothes they thought they were going to get. I asked if there was any guarantee that the clothing I'd donated wouldn't end up in the Salvation Army Thrift Store to be sold locally here, and they said that was probably where they'd end up. Mary and I looked at each other and said simultaneously "Let's get the hell out of here." I can't believe those people were actually surprised and upset that we left with our donations still in the back of my RAV4.

Today I'm going to go online and try to find churches down in New Orleans, and start calling them to see if they'll take a shipment of donations for hurricane victims. I'm betting we can get those clothes to the hurricane victims directly that way. People give because they want to help a specific cause but these beaurocratic organizations throw up roadblocks all over the place to keep you from helping, preventing you from wanting to help. I stopped giving to the Red Cross after 9/11 for this very reason. They'd collected more than $60 million in donations to help the victims of 9/11 but decided to put half of it away for a rainy day. That's not why people donated -- they wanted to HELP those people in New York.

Anyway, after we got back from our wasted trip, we changed into our grubby clothes and the three of us (Mary, Lisa and I) cleaned our garage so that we'll be able to park in it once winter sets in. Clearly it looked worse than it actually was because it took us only 3 hours to get it completely cleaned out, straightened up, and swept out. It looks great, but Lisa's workshop (off the back of the garage) still needs to get cleaned out. We bought a new shed a few weeks ago to put the riding mower and other gardening things in over the winter, and I'm thrilled at how much stress that took off the garage. It'll alleviate a lot of the accumulated "stuff" in Lisa's workshop, too. Next weekend we're going to clean Mary's garage. Hers looks bad, too, but in reviewing it yesterday we decided that, like ours, it probably looks worse than it actually is. Besides, we don't have to clear it out enough for two vehicles to park, as Mary lives alone.

I got started on making the rug to go with Michelle's afghan that I made. It really looks good, I'm very proud of it so far, and I'm really pleased with the yarn I'm using. It knits up fast, and is very easy to work with, even considering how bulky it is. I started it Saturday evening and by the time we went to bed last night, I had it 25% completed. At this rate, I should be done with it by next weekend. That will complete that whole project (other than sewing together the strips for the afghan) and I can focus on getting our blanket done before Christmas. I did some calculations and decided that, there's too much to do in order to get little Brandon's blanket done by Christmas, so that will be a birthday present for him (in February) so that takes a bit of stress off me in that I can focus completely on our blanket.

Yesterday marked 7 years since I quit smoking, something I'm very proud of. Now if I could only get Lisa to WANT to quit...

I've been hot flashing like crazy the past few days. I'm not sleeping well because I'm cold without the covers, and too hot with them on. I can't seem to find a happy medium. It's been two months now since I've had a visit from my little red-headed cousin and I've only had a total of four visits from her since January. Can't say I miss the little bitch, but damn, the effects of not having her around aren't all that pleasant, either! Lisa has been great throughout this whole thing. Last night, at one point, I was flashing so bad I felt like I was going to explode. She looked at me and said my face was beet red, so she went and got a cool washcloth and had me put it on the back of my neck. It helped tremendously. Don't know what I'd do without her. She's always there, loving me. Never in my whole life have I ever felt so secure in knowing that the person I love loves me back just as much -- I can actually feel the intensity of her love. I love her very much. I love my life with her very much.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Why I'm on Prozac these days

CLICK HERE to see why my doctor prescribed Prozac.

LOL!

Serious Points to Ponder

1. Can you cry under water?

2. How important does a person have to be before they are considered assassinated instead of just murdered?

3. If money doesn't grow on trees then why do banks have branches?

4. Since bread is square, why is sandwich meat round?

5. Why do you have to "put your two cents in" but it's only a "penny for your thoughts"? Where's that extra penny going to?

6. Once you're in heaven, do you get stuck wearing the clothes you were buried in for eternity?

7. Why does a round pizza come in a square box?

8. What disease did cured ham actually have?

9. How is it that we put man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?

10. Why is it that people say they "slept like a baby" when babies wake up like every two hours?

11. If a deaf person has to go to court, is it still called a hearing?

12. If you drink Pepsi at work in the Coke factory, will they fire you?

13. Why are you IN a movie, but you're ON TV?

14. Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground?

15. How come we choose from just two people for President and fifty for Miss America???

16. Why do doctors leave the room while you change? They're going to see you naked anyway.

17. If a 911 operator has a heart attack, whom does he/she call?

18. Why is "bra" singular and "panties" plural?

19. Do illiterate people get the full effect of Alphabet soup?

20. Who was the first person to look at a cow and say, "I think I'll squeeze these dangly things here, and drink whatever comes out!"

21. Why do toasters always have a setting that burns the toast to a horrible crisp, which no decent human being would eat?

22. Why is there a light in the fridge and not in the freezer?

23. When your photo is taken for your driver's license, why do they tell you to smile? If you are stopped by the police and asked for your license, are you going to be smiling?

24. If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why is there a stupid song about him?

25. Can a hearse carrying a corpse drive in the carpool lane?

26. If the professor on Gilligan's Island can make a radio out of a coconut, why can't he fix a hole in a boat?

27. Why do people point to their wrist when asking for the time, but don't point to their crotch when they ask where the bathroom is?

28. Why does Goofy stand erect while Pluto remains on all fours? They're both dogs!

29. What do you call male ballerinas?

30. Can blind people see their dreams? Do they dream?

31. If Wyle E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME crap, why didn't he just buy dinner?

32. If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, what is baby oil made from?

33. If electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from morons?

34. Is Disney World the only people trap operated by a mouse?

35. Do the Alphabet song and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star have the same tune?

36. Why did you just try singing the two songs above?

37. Why do they call it an asteroid when it's outside the hemisphere, but call it a hemorrhoid when it's inside your butt?

38. Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog's face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him for a car ride; he sticks his head out the window?

39. Do you ever wonder why you come here and read this drivel in the first place?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Check it out!

This video is just too good to not watch.

Also, this is worth a look if you want a snicker or two.

And here's an absolutely excellent blog post that everyone should read.

Enjoy

Back by popular demand

After a summer hiatus, we're ready to resume the "Dyke Film Fest." This week's movie will be Bound, starring Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon, and Joe Pantoliano. Gina Gershon plays "Corky," an ex-con hired to do some remodeling in the building where "Violet" (Tilly) and her boyfriend live. The two women are immediately attracted to each other, and devise a scheme. There's some HOT scenes in this movie!

Also, since Queer as Folk has ended, we're bouncing around the idea of a QAF-Fest -- we have the DVDs for the first 3 seasons, another couple has season 4 and, perhaps by the time we work our way through the first 4 seasons, season 5 will be out. We also agree that The L Word would be worth re-visiting, too, since every single one of us has an away message on instant messaging software saying something about not wanting to be disturbed because The L Word is on. We have the complete set of season 1, and I think season 2 is now out.

Between the two, my absolute favorite is/was QAF. I was majorly bumming about it ending, but it was it's time. Perhaps in the future, a movie "update" would be appropriate, but I suppose there's only so much Babylon and married bliss that can be written about. Ted would always be alone, and self-deprecating. Brian would always be...Brian. Michael and Ben would become boring. Melanie and Lindsey moved to Canada. Emmett will always be looking for Mr. Right, and Debbie will continue to wait tables and throw zingers at the patrons. I know, but that doesn't mean I won't miss the gang.

I'm still flying solo at work (since early April) and things are starting to heat up, so I may not be able to update here very frequently for a little while.

Monday, September 12, 2005

NFL, week one

So far, I'm 9-6 for week one. Not even close to the top in the pool at work, but in a 3-way tie for first place in the pool where Lisa works. Joe is one of the others tied for first with me, and we have/had identical picks, other than the total score for the Monday night tie-breaker. I have 41 points, he has 51.

This was our first week with DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket and SuperFan Pass. Two channels with 8 games each in small boxes on the screen (game mix), along with scores and stats on the games. Another humpety-hump number of channels with games on. GAMES, GAMES, GAMES! I was in hog heaven yesterday!

EIGHT players ended up the day with a passer rating over 100, with Ben-it-wasn't-a-fluke Roethlisberger leading the pack with an astonishing 158.3 rating. I had to rub my eyes, blink several times, and pinch myself to make sure I wasn't hallucinating seeing Drew Bledsoe in second place with a rating of 143.4 -- how come he couldn't play like that in Buffalo? Arnaz Battle, a wide receiver for the 49ers also is in the top 8 for passer ratings, having thrown two passes, completing both, for 27 yards. Rounding out the top 8 are Rattay, Fiedler, Palmer, Brady and Leftwitch. I think Carson Palmer (CIN) is going to be a fun one to watch this year, as he seems to have some formidable weapons on his offense. Maybe we can say "Cincinnati Bengals" without snickering between the two words this year, eh?

Speaking of snickering, did the Denver Broncos miss the plane or something? What is it about a winless record (they're 0-7) in Miami that they can't seem to get past? Yeah, yeah, sure, both of their starting cornerbacks were injured and one of the rookie replacement cornerbacks was also injured, but there's more to a team than the cornerbacks and, besides, Miami had already handed Denver their hinies well before those injuries took place.

Plummer reminded me of a high-school QB making a debut start. Although, to give the guy SOME credit, he sure had to do a lot of scrambling around because Miami's defense was beating the O-line each and every play. Add to that the fact that the receivers were pretty well covered the entire game or, if they weren't, they seemed to have difficulty CATCHING the ball, and it put Jake the Snake 5th from the bottom in QB ratings. However, it should be noted that he DID pass for 251 yards, finishing 11th overall in passing yards -- so he DID do his job. Did he do it well? I'd have to say, overall, no.

Mike Anderson went out injured almost immediately, and Tatum Bell replaced him. See, the thing is, Anderson is a tough ex-Marine and he's like a plow horse. Bell, while swift and nimble, just doesn't seem to have the strength to hit the hole and advance past it, especially when confronted with a tough run defense like Miami showed yesterday.

David Carr (HOU) finally cut his hair, but maybe he should have left it long for the "good luck," as he finished the day last in QB ratings AND in last place for QB passing yards (for QBs that started).

Speaking of QBs that started or didn't, Josh McCown entered the game for Arizona yesterday. What happened to Kurt Whatshisname? Did you see what this arrogant prick said about Eli Manning? "It was one of those games where, fortunately for him, he wasn't called upon to do a whole lot. They had a lot of big runs and he had a couple of screens that were probably his biggest plays." Yeah? Manning's in his second year, what's your excuse, Warner? Your passer rating was only 10 points higher than this young, inexperienced Eli Manning. What's that expression? Pride goeth before a great fall?

Speaking of Manning -- Peyton Manning and his Colts had one heck of a game against the Ravens last night. Normally, when a game ends the first half at 3-0, you ask yourself "What the heck am I watching this yawner for?" But, that game was far from a yawner. It was an offensive and defensive struggle the whole way through. Excellent offensive plays from both teams, and phenomenal defense from both teams as well. In addition to Manning's brilliance both in and out of the pocket, Boller AND Wright both had excellent games as well. Manning barely fell below a 100 passer rating.

J.P. Losman (BUF) had a pretty decent start yesterday, too, as Buffalo trounced Houston. Must be the long hair -- Carr should avoid the barbershop.

It was great that the Saints (the sentimental favorites) won yesterday. I honestly didn't think that ball was going to go through the uprights when it was kicked in the closing seconds, giving the Saints their win. Perhaps the collective inhale by the Saints fans pulled that ball into the correct position. What an exciting finish it was.

Lisa gently reminded me last night that, while the Raiders lost Thursday night (her team), they were SUPPOSED to lose, unlike Denver. She's damn lucky she's cute.

Denver's next opponent: San Diego at Invesco Field. Brees is a fair quarterback, but the team relies heavily on Ladainian Tomlinson -- Denver DOES have a tough run defense.

Now if only they can shore up the rest of the defense...or at least SHOW up against San Diego.

NFL Sunday Ticket is the BEST!

Stubborn!

I just spoke with my aunt. It seems that I'm not the only one enjoying them living so close now. Apparently my father goes to see them quite regularly -- of course, he lives only 20 minutes away, too.

Anyway, apparently last weekend, while my aunt was in Binghamton, my father went to visit her husband. They were on their way out to the front porch to have a smoke, when my father seemed to stumble over nothing at all, and he fell. Bob helped him up, and my father noted that his left arm and leg were almost completely numb, and he claimed the didn't trip and doesn't remember falling. My aunt and I agree that it sounds like he may have had some sort of mini-stroke. It concerned that stubborn old fool enough that he called the doctor's office at the VA and they told him that if it happened again, he was to come in immediately. Stroke only appear on tests as they occur, not afterward, apparently they told him. I guess I thought they could tell someone had recently had a stroke through CAT scans or MRI's or the like.

My father IS stubborn, and the more you fret over him, the more abusive he is to himself. It's almost like his way of saying "I'll do what I want, and you can't make me do different." He's 70 years old, a year younger than my aunt, but looks a full decade (at least) older. He has a hernia that portrudes through his shirt at the waist like a second arm growing out. No kidding, it bulges at least a couple of inches out, and looks to be about the size of my fist.

This stubborn man had surgery for a hernia and, the day he was discharged from the hospital, put his family in the car and drove to Florida. He does stupid things like that all the time and, as a result, can't get a doctor that knows him to give him much more than the time of day.

His wife is only 34 and from Brazil. I really like Le -- she's very personable, very caring, and very intelligent. If anything happens to him, through his own stupidity, she won't be able to get her green card and she and her daughter will be forced to go back to Brazil. But, when you mention this sort of thing to him, he gets pissy -- he doesn't hold himself responsible FOR anyone.

What's funny is that, at first, we were worried about my father when we found out about this Brazilian bride. We worried that he was being taken for a ride and being used. These days, we worry about Le and her daughter, Vanessa.

Vanessa is 10 years old, and truly a brilliant and personal young lady. Two years ago, when they arrived in this country, neither of them spoke a syllable of English. Today, Vanessa speaks English as well as any native born person, and without any detectable accent. She was at the very top of her grade last year in all areas of academics, and when presented with an award, the principal spoke very highly of Vanessa's language skills and her transition into learning in a foreign tongue. I really like this kid -- she's very articulate, very intelligent, yet still very much a 10-year old girl.

I wish my father would think about THEM once in a while. I suppose, in some ways, he has thought about them, as he no longer drinks. That's a huge plus, but he still smokes like a chimney and has a very poor diet.

My brother is an apple that didn't fall too far from that tree, either. He, too, smokes like a chimney and was recently diagnosed with diabetes and emphysema. You'd think that, with emphysema, he'd stop smoking, or at least consider it. Nope. He acknowledges that he's had "...too much sugar and too many cigs..." but doesn't seem to care enough to do anything about it. His wife of 29 years passed away two years ago July. He immediately began seeing someone and has since had his house foreclosed on and has yet to move all of his crap out of the house, even though his deadline was August 1. I can't imagine why the bank would WANT the place, as it reeks of animal urine (from all the dogs) and various human odors that I never wanted to identify for fear I'd retch myself inside out.

I should talk, though. Here I sit, overweight and passing judgment on them.

OK, so, call me silly

I just thought this was cute.

Beer Troubleshooting

SYMPTOM: Feet cold and wet.
FAULT: Glass being held at incorrect angle.
ACTION: Rotate glass so open end points toward ceiling.

SYMPTOM: Feet warm and wet.
FAULT: Improper bladder control.
ACTION: Stand next to nearest dog, complain about house training.

SYMPTOM: Beer unusually pale and tasteless.
FAULT: Glass empty.
ACTION: Get someone to buy you another beer.

SYMPTOM: Opposite wall covered with fluorescent lights.
FAULT: You have fallen over backward.
ACTION: Have yourself leashed to bar.

SYMPTOM: Mouth contains cigarette butts.
FAULT: You have fallen forward.
ACTION: See above.

SYMPTOM: Beer tasteless, front of your shirt is wet.
FAULT: Mouth not open, or glass applied to wrong part of face.
ACTION: Retire to restroom, practice in mirror.

SYMPTOM: Floor blurred.
FAULT: You are looking through bottom of empty glass.
ACTION: Get someone to buy you another beer.

SYMPTOM: Floor moving.
FAULT: You are being carried out.
ACTION: Find out if you are being taken to another bar.

SYMPTOM: Room seems unusually dark.
FAULT: Bar has closed.
ACTION: Confirm home address with bartender.

SYMPTOM: Taxi suddenly takes on colorful aspect and textures.
FAULT: Beer consumption has exceeded personal limitations.
ACTION: Cover mouth.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Are you ready for some football?

I sure as hell am! Now that there's no QAF or L Word on the telly, I need something to encourage me to sit like a turd for a couple of hours!

Actually, Sundays during football season are my "selfish" days. I'll work my buns off on Saturday and through the week to ensure that everything's done by Sunday that needs to be done. That way I can sit and "turd" with a clean conscience. These days I'm knitting a lot, so it's good "down time" for me.

Yesterday we went to our "part-time job" and did some preliminary "winterizing." I trimmed shrubs for the first time in my life (yews) and I have to say that I'm very proud of how they look. I can't believe they're not just little sticks sitting in the ground -- amazing what a little bit of confidence does for a person, eh? We weeded, trimmed trees, and the like, and spent the better part of 7 hours there. We felt good about what we'd done by the time we left. It's nice having someone that you can work with so well -- Lisa sort of takes charge deciding what needs to be done, and I just follow along. ME! Following! LOL!

While the trees are beginning to turn, they're really behind in color. Usually by now you don't have to scan the treeline looking for one that's turning, but right now, you really have to look to find them.

The first weekend in October is the Fall Foliage Festival, which is traditionally when everything is at peak color -- wonder if it's going to be true this year. My aunt (the one we visited last weekend) is looking forward to going, and we're looking forward to going with her. I think we'll see if Michelle is available again this year. She had a great time last year, without the kids and Doug in tow. My aunt just adores her -- sees a lot of grit and strength in her. I think it'd be fun to have all of us together.

Lisa's formulating a plan to build a cover for the outside stairwell leading into the back room downstairs. It always fills with snow during the winter and for the past year or two, we've had a cheap piece of plywood over it, which has worked relatively well. We've been able to pile wood in that stairwell (for the fireplace) which we can access just by using the door downstairs. Now that she's learned a thing or two from my uncle in woodworking, she's got a design drawn up to build a simple, yet seemingly very functional cover for it. It'd be two pieces, with the top pieces overlapping so as not to let any snow between them. It's 6 inches high on the side toward the house, and 4 inches on the other side -- giving it enough of a pitch so that rain and melting snow will run off it into the yard, and not saturate the wood so that it bows and collapses like the plywood did. She's a clever girl.

I have to laugh because when I took up the knitting, she was all excited because her grandmother had taught her to crochet -- she was going to try to take that up. Nothing doing -- crochet hooks and yarn don't vibrate and make you feel the power in the same way that her power tools do! LOL! I'm thinking woodworking is more her style, and I'll stick to the yarnwork. LOL! This is the plan for the blanket I'm starting for my grandson.



Hopefully I'll have it done for Christmas -- otherwise his birthday is in February. We'll see.

OK -- off to fix that light switch, then hunker down for week 1.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Perspective

Complaint: This is ridiculous, gas over $3 a gallon!
Retort: At least you have a vehicle, a home, and a job to go to. If you lived in New Orleans, you wouldn't even have that, much less food, electricity, running water, and clothing.

Frankly, I'm not happy about gas being $3.39 a gallon, either, but I'm thankful that I have what those in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi no longer have. Gas for my auto is a luxury -- food, clothing, shelter are all basic needs that some of these folks cannot even meet.

I think that what many people just don't seem to comprehend is that, not only did these people lose their homes, but many of them lost their jobs and any opportunity to work to earn money to survive with only basic needs being met. I'm horrified by the devastation caused by that hurricane. I'm horrified by the stupidity of people in the disaster zones, shooting at law enforcement and rescue workers. What the hell is wrong with them? I'm horrified at how "the system" failed the victims of this disaster. I read an article a couple of days ago where Chimpy (Dubya) took a photo opportunity when he was down there gawking around -- a woman said to him "My baby needs clothes, I have nothing." He hugged her, mugged for the camera, then told her to go to the Salvation Army, they'd help. You want to impress me you frickin' moron? Take out your wallet and empty it into the woman's hands. Don't tell her to find the Salvation Army that may or may not still be standing, without any means of traveling to the place, and without any knowledge of whether the place has been picked clean already.

Our President is clueless -- but no surprise there.

We've put our names on the list to provide housing for victims of Hurrican Katrina, even though we're so far removed from it. I don't know how much we can afford, along the lines of supporting them, but I do know that I'd be grateful for someone to take a risk to take me and mine in were I in the same situation.

How I spent Labor Day weekend

I have an aunt, on my father's side, whom I never met until I was in my 30s. My mother and father split before my mother even knew she was pregnant with me and, after accidentally running into my father and his new wife and kids when I was two at my aunt's house during the holidays, my mother distanced herself, and us, from my father's family, seemingly to protect herself and us.

My father had been having an affair with another woman and, when she became pregnant, he told my mother that he didn't want to leave her to raise a child by herself. Of course, he already had a child with my mother, who was 4 months old (my brother, Steve). I have a half-sister that's 3 months older than I am. My father has five offspring -- my brother and I by my mother, and two daughters and a son by his second wife. Five kids that he never lent a hand in raising, I might add.

I never laid eyes on my father until 1976 -- I was 21 years old. I didn't see him again until 1989 and we have an acquaintance type of relationship now. I'm the only one of his 5 kids who pays him any attention. I invited him up for Thanksgiving dinner last year, and my birthday party this year. He seemed delighted to be included. He's earned what he has from all of his kids, though.

Anyway, my aunt...

It turned out, after I met her in 1989, that her daughter lived in the same town in Massachusetts that I lived in -- at the same time. Small world, eh? At that time, she lived in Billerica and we lived in Pepperell, completely ignorant of each others' proximity.

After Massachusetts they moved to Connecticut and then to Floria. This past spring, after too many hurricanes in Florida, they moved back up here where the family is. It's been great having family around -- something I've never really had outside of my kids.

Last week they drove up and we took them to The Garden Factory (where my son works) and spent a buck or two on shrubs and perennials to put around their new home. They couldn't get everything they bought into their van, so we kepts some at our house and promised to come down Labor Day Weekend to help plant.

Wanda (my aunt) has a husband, Bob, who is quite the carpenter. Lisa has long wanted to learn woodworking so we struck a deal that I would help my aunt plant shrubs and bushes, and Lisa would hang with my uncle and try to learn from him.

We got there Saturday around noon-time and found that my father and step-sister (Vanessa, who is 10) were there. We sat and chatted for a while, then got to work. I had an entire afternoon of one-on-one with my aunt, and I cannot truly articulate how much I enjoyed it. We spent the night, and went back at it the next day the same way.

Let me tell you something -- I just turned 50 a month or so ago, and sometimes feel like I'm 80 with all of my aches and pains. I've got a touch of arthritis in my right thumb and pinkie, and am still having problems with my hips and back from that fall back in March. I'm hot flashing like crazy these days, have nights when my sleep is restless and my allergies bother me tremendously.

But this 71 year old woman yanked and tugged on large tree roots, was on her hands and knees planting and pruning, and even pushed an old, heavy trunk up 2 full flights of stairs all by herself. Aches and pains? Yep, you bet she gets them, but she ignores them as much as she can, and continues to really live each day to the fullest. I so respect and admire this woman!

But more than anything else, I feel such kinship with her because I finally was able to see that, in very many ways, she and I are cut from the same cloth. It used to bother me that I looked so much like my mother but after looking at pictures of her in her youth, Lisa and my aunt both agree that, while the resemblance is there, I don't look as much like her as I think I do. Of course, I don't look a thing like Wanda, but this apple didn't fall too far from that family tree.

What an odd feeling, to have family around that close now, but how wonderful, too!

I'm going to love having my aunt living so close to me.