Thursday, August 30, 2012

I Want to Learn the Hard Way

As parents, Hud and I have tried, really hard, to save our kids from life’s tougher lessons. We drilled into them the importance of looking both ways before they cross the street – even on a one-way street. We insisted they wash their hands before dinner and take baths every night. All the things that most parents do for their children – to keep them safe and secure. Now Pepper and the rest of the four-legged gang, they listen pretty well. They know dog biscuits are on the line. The rest? Not so much.

And as they’ve gotten older and gone out on their own, we’ve tried to expand the lessons to include ones that will save them time, money and/or heartache in the long run. For instance, when #2 son, Jet, moved into his own apartment last year, we told him that he needed to set aside money to pay his rent at the beginning of the month, rather than waiting until the end of the month to start scrambling around to find funds. We also warned him that if he came up short and needed to borrow money from us, we would give him the money, but he would have to move back home that day. Can you guess how many months it took before he was calling, asking for $20 to cover his rent? Less than six would be the right answer. When the call came, I reminded him of our earlier conversation and the fact that it was moving day if I gave him the money. Tough love? Maybe – it would have been very easy to give him the $20 and a stern lecture, but the next month it would have been $50 and then the next month . . . I know this kid! He told me he was going to call his older brother for a loan and I reminded him of the original lesson Hud and I had tried to teach him – setting aside your rent money at the beginning of the month. His response? “That’s a great idea!” as though he had never heard such a thing before.


Jet at work - hey, it's a tough job!

Hud talks to #1 son, Sparky, about his car every time we see him. “Have you checked your oil?” “Did you get that headlight replaced?” “When was the last time you had those tires looked at?” Hud knew that Sparky’s car would never pass inspection and continually warned him about it. Imagine our shock when Sparky stormed in the house last weekend, all in a tizzy because his car (let’s all act surprised here) had NOT PASSED INSPECTION and now he wasn’t going to be able to get his license plate sticker renewed before it expired. Hud just looked at Sparky and shook his head.


Sparky in his leisure time

Today, insult is added to injury, because Sparky’s car stereo was stolen last night. Oh, he’s as mad as a hornet – but when I asked him how this could have happened at his house . . . it turns out he wasn’t at his house. He was at a friend’s house. Let’s just say this friend doesn’t live in the nicest of neighborhoods. And while we were visiting said friend, ol’ Sparky didn’t bother to lock his car. Well, there you go. A lesson learned. A very expensive lesson learned.


Sparky, Hud and Jet - my three guys

Hud and I wonder if our brilliant children are ever going to start listening to us. We really do have some good advice to give. Lessons we learned at great cost to ourselves because we didn’t listen to our parents. But that’s a story for another day.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How Will They Remember You When You're Gone?

What will they say about you when you’re gone? Have you ever thought about it? I have to admit, it’s not something I spend a lot of brain power on (limited resources must be allocated judiciously!) but my all time favorite author died recently and I read some of the wonderful things her fans have been posting to her web page. It’s really made me think.

Maeve Binchy

Maeve Binchy was a marvelous story teller – that’s really all you need to know. She had the ability to wind different threads of a story together in such a way that you couldn’t imagine how they would all fit in with each other, but by the end of the story, they were woven together beautifully and perfectly. She wasn’t a romance writer, but she wrote about the romance of everyday life in today’s Ireland. Her characters dealt with recession and economic hard times, just like you and I have to do. They also dealt with alcoholism and poor relationship choices, but they always triumphed in the end – Maeve never wanted to see the bad guy win. And she talked about life in Dublin, Ireland – on Grafton Street, by the River Liffey, on St. Stephens Green, and the piers of Dun Laoghaire – in such a way that I wanted to jump on a plane and go there immediately . . . and felt as though I would know these places the minute I saw them, based on her fabulous descriptions.


Grafton Street, Dublin 

St. Stephen's Green

 
River Liffey                                    

 
 Dun Laoghaire                          

Now, it’s over. On July 30, 2012, this lovely writer, Maeve Binchy, passed away. She was only 72, the same age as my mother – but had some health problems that brought an end to the magic. I can’t say hers are the only books I purchase or the only ones I purchase in hardback (my bookcase shelves would point out that lie) but hers are the ones I pick up and read over and over again . . . and wait impatiently for a new book to come out every year or so. And it breaks my heart to know that I’ve read the last new book from Maeve Binchy. Ever.

As a writer, I have to think – will anyone ever feel this way about me? About my writing? One day, in the future (hopefully far in the future), will someone, an aspiring writer or commuter on a train or student looking to pass the time, feel a pang of regret or sadness that Lyda Ann isn’t going to be sharing her “unique writing style and take on the world” with them any longer? I can but hope.

Christine Green, Maeve Binchy’s literary agent, wrote a beautiful piece on her relationship with Maeve and the outpouring of affection that has taken place since Maeve’s passing. For those of you who know Maeve’s writing, this will come as no surprise. For those of you who don’t, I hope this has inspired you to pick up one of her books. I would start with Evening Class, but you can start wherever you like. With Maeve Binchy, you can’t go wrong. And one of these days, I’ll see you in Dublin!

Christine Green has been Maeve Binchy's literary agent for 32 years since her first novel, Light a Penny Candle. A few days after Maeve's untimely passing on 30 July she pauses to reflect.

'Dear Maeve Binchy
I would like to tell you that I am a tall fan of you. I almost have read everyone of your books and am also at this. I find your way as you write simply rushes about and your books have already often robbed me of the sleep because I simply couldn't stop to read. I would want still to read much from you it makes weird joy to me. The stories are so actual as if you would happen in this world someplace every day. I thank you that I have discovered a passion (reading) by your books. I have infected my family by my enthusiasm in the meantime...'

'I hope that Ms. Binchy knows how special the work that she does is to many people and how it affects our lives. I always go through a period of withdrawal after putting down her books as I miss knowing about what is going on in the lives of the characters.'

'Would it be possible to get the recipe for the shrimp wrapped in phyllo that Cathy made in Scarlet Feather?'

'Maeve saved my life.'

'no inquiry really, just wanted to say that ms. binchys books have kept me sane and pleasant through a very long illness...'

They came in every day, the letters and emails from her readers all over the world. The numbers are there for all to see: forty million-plus copies, thirty-odd languages, but the reality behind the statistics is that Maeve touched the hearts of readers all over the world.

Her stories are positive, rather than romantic: a woman might not get the man she loved, sometimes a marriage ended badly. But her characters always grew and learnt from their experiences. As she herself said, 'I don't have ugly ducklings turning into swans in my stories. I have ugly ducklings turning into confident ducks.'

She was something of a swan herself: she worked immensely hard at making it all look effortless. In the early years, she was running a full-time job as correspondent for the Irish Times, writing memorable columns on everything from the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster to royal weddings. She would get up at 5.30 in the morning, work on a novel for three hours and then head off to the office. Later, it got a bit easier: she worked in a lovely sunny office, side by side with her beloved husband, Gordon Snell, in their house in Dalkey, County Dublin; there she brought the discipline to bear that had served her well first as a teacher then as a journalist.

Each novel, each project had its own file, notebooks, timelines, headings, lists. Inspiration came from many sources: 'I often look at people's faces in the street,' she said. 'There are stories written there. Is that man unfaithful? Does that woman have a secret? Nowhere is dull, nobody is boring...' She was, by her own admission, a rotten typist; whole sections would arrive in the form of anagrams: She stared at him in sibilie... I'll never love a sanejuter...* ; and on occasions even she was unable to decipher what she'd written.

She enjoyed the touring and promoting; she'd say that after months staring at a typewriter and wondering whether the book was any good, it was great to meet readers who stood in line, sometimes for hours, to tell her how much they liked her stories. And after hours of signing books, she gave the last people in the queue more attention not less, because they had been waiting longer.

Then the arthritis which had plagued her for years and was alleviated only temporarily by a hip replacement, got to be too much. She was terrific at hiding it – her last email to me was signed 'your hypochondriac friend' – and worked hard not to let the pain show. She said she felt fine when we knew she felt terrible; she said she was better when she was clearly worse. It worked: she fooled many of us into thinking she was fine – apart from the fact that for some reason she was bent double and walking with two sticks. She had strategies to help her cope: she'd get to places much earlier than anyone else because she hated to be seen limping in, whey-faced with pain. We knew to arrange a kitchen stool or a bar-stool for her to sit on: it was the right height. She'd ask people to come to her house rather than visit theirs. Eventually, the strain was too great. So she retired.

Or rather, she didn't retire. Not even for a second.

She had to stop all the touring: the walks had got too long, the trains too crowded, the airport gates too far away; but the writing continued at the same rate, without missing a beat, the novels, the short stories, the articles.

She was happiest surrounded by her family and her friends, some of whom she'd known since childhood. She was very lucky in her husband, writer Gordon Snell, and they were each hugely supportive of the other throughout their very happy marriage. She was fiercely loyal and that loyalty extended to her publishers: the company names may have changed many times, but Susan Lamb, Dallas Manderson and her American editor Carole Baron had been by her side for more than three decades, along with her overseas publishers who had themselves become dear friends.

Above all, she was funny, warm, hospitable and delightful company. My abiding memory will always be of her at a table with good friends, good food, good wine and fabulous, noisy, lively, entertaining conversation. The British, she used to say, liked to invite four talkers and four listeners for dinner. In Ireland, that didn't work – it was impossible to find four listeners.

Asked how she wanted to be remembered, she said this:

I'd like people to think I was a good friend and a reasonable story-teller and to know that thanks to all the great people, family and friends that I met, I was very, very happy when I was here.

Good night, Maeve, sleep well. Thanks for all the stories – you were indeed a reasonable story-teller.

* disbelief; another

Monday, August 27, 2012

When You Need a Kick Start . . .

Have you ever needed a quick-kick in the seat? Something to get you going, to make you re-adjust your thinking? I have just the thing for you - and it will only take one minute and forty-six seconds of your time. Danielle LaPorte is a motivational blogger/writer/speaker that I love and if you're not already a fan, stop right now and go to Amazon.com and check out her book "The Firestarter Sessions" - it will change your life! I have watched this video of hers dozens of times, and every time, I see something different - I hear something I needed to hear that day. Tell me what you think . . .


Sunday, August 26, 2012

I Don't Wanna Be a Sardine!


Am I getting too old for crowds? I didn’t think so – I used to think I enjoyed the energy and the excitement of being at an event with a lot of people, but after last night, I’m starting to rethink this.

Last night, Hud and I were at an outdoor concert. It should have been a great evening – beach music and tunes from the 70’s and 80’s, a beautiful night and my sweetie . . . what more could I want? Well, to start with, there were so many people stuffed into such a small space, we felt like sardines in a can. It was impossible to move or to see the stage – forget about dancing or really “getting down” with the music. And the way people were just crushing into you and standing right on top of you – it wasn’t any fun AT ALL!

Then, to add to the misery of the atmosphere, it seemed as though every other person there was smoking! Do people still do that? Well, duh, Lyda Ann – obviously they do, because we were SURROUNDED by them.  And not just cigarette smokers either. There were some of the stinkiest cigar smokers walking around us and then some idiot was even smoking a pipe. Really, Uncle Albert? A pipe?

Hud and I tried to hang out and enjoy it for a while, but eventually, it just got to be too much – so we bailed and went to get a pizza . . . so it wasn’t a total loss. An evening that ends with pizza is never bad. Pepper was very disappointed that she was not included in the pizza invitation but she says we should probably avoid crowds from now on.

From me to you . . . some music to "get down" with. Go get your sweetie and enjoy!


Saturday, August 25, 2012

All Evidence to the Contrary


What makes people think they can change people? Or maybe it’s that they refuse to see what’s actually happening right in front of them. I started to ask why women do this, but to be fair, I’ve seen men do it, too.

Here’s the situation a friend was telling me about yesterday . . . a young woman we know (let’s call her Ethel) is dating a man, the same man she’s been dating for quite a while. This man has bought a car for her, treats her really well and she’s been very happy in this relationship. Until she met Dirk. Dirk is out with a different girl every night – one of those bad boys who won’t settle down . . . and he knows exactly what to say to get into any girl’s bed – and into Ethel’s head. Whenever Dirk sees Ethel, he’s full of compliments, of how beautiful she is, how smart she is and, evidently, this is exactly what she needs to hear. Now, all of the sudden, Ethel is jeopardizing her steady relationship and came dangerously close to losing her job last week, to chase after Dirk. And the sad thing is, Ethel knows what kind of guy Dirk has been up until now, knows how he runs through women and has been crying to all her friends that she doesn’t understand “why he would tell her all those things (all those lovely compliments) if he didn’t mean them.”

Ethel’s friends sat her down, especially after it looked as though her job was on the line, and had a serious talk with her. Ethel said she understood – that she knew the relationship she had was the one for her and she didn’t want to risk losing it for someone who was never going to be what she needed him to be. But, the next thing they knew, Ethel was sneaking around, avoiding her friends and meeting Dirk in places she knew her friends wouldn’t see her.

And that’s where the story ends, as far as I know it. Now, I’m not Ethel’s best friend, but I do know she’s not a stupid person. If she were on the outside of this situation, looking in, she would probably be appalled at the way she is behaving and the risks she has been taking. She would, more than likely, have some very strong words for someone else doing the things that she’s been doing. But what is it about people – men and women – and our ability to make ourselves believe what we KNOW is not true?

Ethel has to know Dirk is jerking her around. She has seen him run through women like water; she could tell you exactly how he tells women what they want to hear. So you have to ask, how has she allowed herself to be taken in by his line? Does she believe she can change him? Does she think she’s the one girl he’s NOT lying to? Or does she not care if she’s one of many – she’s just going to enjoy the ride as long as it lasts? No, I know that last one isn’t the case . . . she’s cried too many tears over the amount of time he ignores her for that to be a possibility.

So then I have to wonder, are there things in my life that I’m being blind about? Are there things going on, right under my nose, that I should take a good hard look at? Or that I’m lying to myself about? Part of me thinks I should really examine this. And part of me doesn’t want to know.

Pepper says I really need to rethink the dog biscuit situation (as in she doesn’t get enough) – but then she would, wouldn’t she?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

It's a Comet Serenade

The Picture of the Day . . .

When I'm calling you-oo-oo-oo-oo

Comet giving Hud a serenade while dinner is grilling in the background. My guys always make me smile! Pepper wants to know why Hud isn't throwing the ball for her - if you look closely you can see the tennis ball chucker in Hud's hands. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Soundtrack of Your Life

If you live your life as though it were a movie (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?!?!) you’ve probably imagined all sorts of songs playing in the background at different times of your life. Sad, poignant songs during really depressing times, like when you’re nose-deep in mint, chocolate chip ice cream over the man-who-done-you-wrong. Happy, bubbly pop songs on a day when everything is going your way. And, of course, when you’re running along the beach, striding like the true athlete you are, the music would be the soaring, inspiring type that would motivate every couch potato to jump up and follow you to heights of fitness they’ve never dreamed of.

Recently, someone mentioned a challenge, of sorts, to me that I found very interesting and one that I have burned more brain power on than I would have imagined, at first glance. The question? What are the five songs you would choose as the soundtrack of your life? Sounds easy enough, right? But the more you think about it, the more you delve into your past and think about the importance music has played at different points in your life, the more difficult it becomes.

My first song would be easy. The very first song I remember “liking” and saying “Oh, that’s my favorite song,” when it came on the radio was “Downtown” by Petula Clark. Yes, I am old.


I can still sing along with it and just hearing the first few notes of it takes me right back to my four-year-old self. Yes, I’m very old.

The next song should probably come from elementary school, and my first “crush” was with none other than David Cassidy as Keith Partridge in The Partridge Family. But which Partridge Family “hit” to pick? I should probably go with “I think I love you,” which I was quite sure was written just to me – like every other girl in America.



Or was it Davy Jones in The Monkees? My friend Jess may have been a Mickey Dolenz fan, but I was a Davy girl – no doubt about it. If I’m going to pick The Monkees over The Partridge Family, then I have to go with “Daydream Believer.”


We’ll skip over the years of Donny Osmond and Shaun Cassidy and the questionable music of the late ‘70’s and now we’re in the ‘80’s. The years in which my favorite group of all time was created – Def Leppard. Well, I know my favorite Def Leppard song . . . it’s “Hysteria.”



So, now here we are – barely to the end of the 80’s, I only have two songs left and so much music left to think about! There is NO WAY I can narrow it down to just five songs – not with all the great choices out there!! I just can’t do it!

Now what about you? What five songs would you choose as a soundtrack to your life? Could you choose just five? Or are you like me – convinced there are too many good ones to narrow it down to just five? What is the first song you remember “liking”?

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Slug Killer Can't Wait for Autumn!

Whew - where has the time gone? Yesterday was a rainy, lazy day and I took full advantage of it! I don't think I moved three feet in any direction the entire day! What a fabulous day it was!!  Ya know, I could use a day like that more often!! And the high temperature was only 71 degrees, or something like that. Highly unusual for August, but VERY welcome . . . and made me all the more anxious for autumn to get here. I had on a sweatshirt all day, and loved every minute of it. Saw something cute on FB you might like . . .


That sums it up for me!!

Last night, after all the rain, I was out about 9:30 and decided to take a look at some of my marigold plants, because they had been looking sort of weak lately - and let me tell you, they were COVERED with slugs. 
                      Bleh!!

That's right - slimy, disgusting slugs!! Yuck!! I'm glad there wasn't anyone outside with a camera (as far as I know) because I ran right back in the house and got my salt shaker, came back out and started the killing spree. I must have killed twenty of the disgusting creatures before Hud finally came out to the garage and insisted I come back in the house. He really knows how to ruin a girl's good time!! I guess I just have to hope there aren't any youtube videos of "my crazy neighbor - the slug killer" out there!

Pepper says that if I'm going to use salt, she would prefer I use it on some popcorn and fix plenty for her, as she's very hungry right now, with all the ball chasing she's been doing lately. She thinks Hud and I are really falling down on the job!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Water for Plants and Tennis Balls for Pepper

It's amazing what a difference little water and 24-hours can make!

Thanks for the water, Lyda Ann!

My poor little plants are much happier today!

I've had the best luck this year with gomphrena - these little purple flowers that I bought at least seven years ago as an annual flower and have re-seeded themselves and come back every spring in this big planter.



I've taken the plants from this planter and transplanted them around my mailbox - as you can see, they are loving the hot weather and long, sunny days we've been having.



They'll be gone with the first frost, but I'll pull up the plants and pile them back up in the big planter again, to let the seeds collect for next spring, and put pansies out at the mailbox for the winter and spring. By the time it gets too hot for the pansies, the gomphrena plants will be ready to go back out at the mailbox!

Pepper's had a great day, chasing her tennis ball around the front yard.

Throw the ball, Mom!
She was all tuckered out by the end of the day . . . 


Pepper says all she needs is a good night's sleep and she'll be ready to go again tomorrow. An extra dog biscuit would be helpful, too.


Friday, August 17, 2012

News Flash - Plants Need Water. Film at Eleven.

Oops - I guess I forgot to water my plants yesterday. I was so busy thinking about Hud and his softball game, I forgot to go out there and give the planters on my front porch a drink.

Gasp . . . help me!

Pepper says the reason I don't forget to feed and water her is because of her vocal selections and ability to make herself heard - and she's right. If only my plants could do the same thing. They were much happier after a nice cool drink when I got home from work!

Speaking of Hud and his softball game, they won! It was late (11:30 before we got into bed) and high scoring - the final score was 17 - 16, but my boys pulled out a win in their opening game. Woo hoo!! And they were so sweet - almost all of them thanked me for coming out and keeping score for them. I think I see some homemade cupcakes in their futures . . . what do you think?

Running the bases

I saw the most poignant, heart-wrenching video yesterday. This young man, Eric, has cancer and has been told by his doctors that there is nothing more they can do to help him. He's in extreme pain and Hospice has been brought in to help him.


                  Eric's Confession Final Video

Hope you've got your tissues if you decide to watch it. As a Hospice volunteer, I know that the nurses and volunteers will be able to help him with the pain. I just hope he will let them help him with the fear. Hospice people are AMAZING - and believe me, I'm not talking about myself. I just make coffee and answer the phone. The people who work with with the patients and their families are doing wonderful things and helping people in fantastic ways. I pray that Eric will be touched by the love and care of Hospice the way I've seen it happen so many times before. 


Thursday, August 16, 2012

If One More Person Says “Laters” . . .


What? You haven’t experienced this joy? Yep, “laters” is one of the catchphrases employed in the runaway literary smash of this summer Fifty Shades of "I’m a Bad Writer." Now, every 20-something who wants you to know they’ve been reading “the book” has started employing the phrase. Just drop it into conversation in place of “good-bye” and you can let the world know that you’ve been reading badly-written soft core porn. Convenient? Now, I’ve got nothing against porn – if it’s done right. If all these fans of “the book” wanted to read a really good S & M book, they’d be reading The Story of O or Carrie’s Story – books that are well-written and don’t depend on trite clich├ęs like “Oh, my” and “inner goddess” and, God forbid, “laters.” Seriously?

What are you doing around 9:30 tonight? I know what I should be doing. If I had any sense at all, I’d be headed off to bed for a good night’s sleep. But bless Hud’s little heart, tonight I’ll be headed out the door and on my way to his company team’s softball game. Yes indeed, believe it or not, it’s time for softball season to start . . . again. Now, I know – I could let him go on and tell him to be very quiet when he comes back in. But I’ve always believed that if you’re going to be out there “performing,” there ought to be someone out there cheering you on. And last year, they needed a scorekeeper, so now I have a job, in addition to being Hud’s personal cheerleader. Crazy? Yes. I know that it is. But, there you go . . . and there I will be.

Hud covers second base - isn't he cute?


I think that’s why I took up running two months ago – I needed to jump start my fitness routine and I wanted to do something that would get my family out cheering for me, for a change. I’ve spent enough time (years, in fact) sitting in bleachers cheering on soccer players, baseball players, softball players, wrestlers – you name the sport, I have cheered on Hud and our boys while they did it. Now, it’s my turn. I just have to find a race to run in. Any suggestions? Pepper says she prefers it be a short one, as she would like to be fed as soon as possible.

Hey Mom! Me and Rocket are hungry!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Mission Trip - and Loving The Newsroom!

A woman I work with just returned from a mission trip to Haiti and, today during our lunch, gave a group of us a slide show of her photos and a bit of a presentation about what she had seen. Wow - that's really the only word to describe it. The abject poverty, the horrendous conditions of the hospital - it was enough to break your heart. And the part that really brought us all to tears was the condition of the animals, particularly the dogs. There's only so much aid and help to go around, and there doesn't seem to be any for the animals. So sad. My friend visited an orphanage, and those children seemed to be better off than some living with their parents. They were getting three good meals a day and had clothes and shoes that fit. There was so much that needed to be done - it was hard to know where to begin. God bless all the wonderful people working to help in Haiti. They are doing the work of angels!

I've discovered another WONDERFUL television show - especially if you loved The West Wing as much as I did (and don't you STILL miss it?) It's The Newsroom on HBO . . . it's written by Aaron Sorkin - yes, the same one who wrote The West Wing - and it's every bit as fabulous. The writing is superb, as Sorkin's writing always is, fresh and on target. I just wish I could speak that way when I was talking to people!! Love it, love it!!

The Newsroom Poster

Pepper says when you're making donations to organizations that help the homeless in places like Haiti, remember the puppies, too. They need help just as much as the people.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Gym time vs. Shopping . . .


Ooooo, I got so mad at Hud last night, I could have screamed. Now, you may not know this, but that man just loves to go work out at the gym. I don’t know what’s wrong with him and I’ve quit trying to figure it out. It’s his problem and he has to live with it. As long as he doesn’t try to drag me along with him, we will be just fine. Sadly (for him) the gym here in town closed, so he has had to go shopping for a new one. He went to the one you hear about on the radio all the time, but for some reason, he just didn’t like it. I think they tried to give him the hard sell, and if there is one man who won’t be sold, it’s Hud. He knows what he wants and he knows how he wants to buy it. And that’s that.

So yesterday, after work, he decides to go to the big, fancy gym down the road and check it out. At least, that’s what I thought he was doing. When I got home from work, the evidence was right there on the table – he had been sold! I couldn’t believe it! When he finally got home from the worst meeting you could imagine having to attend (believe me – you’d rather gouge your eyes out than have to sit through one of these meetings!) he starts telling me how WONDERFUL this gym is . . . indoor and outdoor pools, sauna, yoga rooms, spinning rooms – you name it! And the price was just as WONDERFUL! It’s not that I begrudge him spending the money (okay, it is, but I’m trying to get over that) because it’s only $10 a month more than what he was spending on the crappy gym he was going to before. But you would think he could have talked to me about it before he signed on the dotted line. But, NOOOOO. And when I said something about me going (as if THAT’S ever going to happen) Hud says, “You can go, for only $44.00.” A month?!?! Do you know how much thrift store shopping I can do with $44.00 a month? Quite a bit, I can tell you!! In fact, there is a very good thrift store, right down the street from FABULOUS gym . . . I might have to take a little field trip.

I was so proud of myself yesterday – I had eaten a good, healthy breakfast and lunch and then tried to wait until Hud got home from the world’s longest meeting for supper. Pepper warned me that I was making a huge mistake, but I thought I could handle it. Let’s just say, dinner turned out to be goldfish crackers and chocolate chip cookies. Delicious – yes. Healthy and helpful toward losing 10 lbs.? No. Coincidently, I got an email at work yesterday afternoon from our Employee Health and Wellness Supervisor (what a great job to have!!) letting all employees know that the local YMCA is sponsoring a corporate weight loss challenge. I came into work this morning and let her know what I ate for dinner last night and said, “I’m in.” She was so sweet – she said: 

Hahaha you are hilarious and honest and i love you! :-) I will write you down as interested! :-)  

She has no idea how serious I am!!


Today is Rocket's birthday! Sweet, sweet little Rocket is 8 years old. It's hard to believe he's that old - and that we've had him in our family since he was 8 weeks old. He's just a big ol' bundle of love.

I'm the birthday boy!

Okay – probably time to do some sit-ups or something. Bleh.

Monday, August 13, 2012

All Good Things Must End . . . Good-bye Olympics!


So tired . . . stayed up WAY too late last night, watching the closing ceremonies for the Olympics. Pepper’s word to the wise today is to go to bed at your regular bedtime, especially when the next day is Monday. But I had “heard” on Twitter than Ray Davies was going to be singing “Waterloo Sunset” and I wanted to see that. I know, I know . . . that’s what they make DVRs for. Mine, however, is already at 95% capacity with episodes of “BurnNotice” and “Suits” waiting for the Olympics to end so I can get back to my regularly scheduled TV watching. Can someone please explain to me why NBC-owned stations like USA Network continued showing first-run episodes of their shows during the Olympic coverage? I thought the whole purpose of NBC having the Olympics was for them to use all their stations to cover the more obscure events like Dressage and Handball. Whatever. As long as I know I have that yummy Jeffrey Donovan as Michael Westen waiting for me when I get home from work tonight. Sorry, Hud.

Episode Gallery
Cutie, cute cute!

Have you ever noticed that the best solution is usually the most simple . . .and when it is pointed out to you, it’s as though a bright light has come on and choirs of angels have begun singing? I had just such a moment this weekend . . . I was reading “Our State” magazine – don’t you just love that magazine?


Anyway, this month there is a great article about the cutest B&B near Henderson, NC called the Bed & Breakfast on Tiffany Hill in Mills River. The owner of this darling place, Selena Einwechter, has come up with the most marvelous idea. She stocks each toiletries basket in the guest rooms with black washcloths for removing eye makeup. Now, have you ever thought of anything so brilliant? I cannot TELL you how many washcloths I have ruined with mascara! I have tried bleach and every spot remover known to man, but nothing has done the trick. And here is the answer, all along. Just use black washcloths. I love it!! I can tell you all my white washcloths are going in the trash, ASAP!

Better get to work so I can catch up on my TV watching tonight - did I mention I watch way too much TV? Pepper certainly thinks so! She'll be angling for a walk, no doubt.



Sunday, August 12, 2012

Welcome to the Boom Town!


Well, hello there!  Welcome to my blog! Aren’t you just the sweetest thing, to come on over here and read all about me? I’ve been trying to decide the best way to get started . . . do I launch in to a discussion of my life and let you figure out what’s happening as we go along? Or do we go through the introductions and the cast of characters? And I do mean care-actors!!

How ‘bout a combination of the two? I’m Lyda Ann Baker and this is my crazy life! I’m a wife, mom, grant writer, aspiring author, somewhat crafty person, sports fan and probably spend WAY too much time watching television. I swear I don’t have an original thought in my head and most of my best “lines” come from old movies. You’ll probably recognize a lot of them. I refuse to let any of my family leave the house without telling them I love them and to be careful. And no, I don’t know why.

Okay, enough background and onto today’s random thoughts. Since the Olympics are almost over – and haven’t they been fun to watch? – here are some of the things I’ve been thinking about them.

What is up with the Russian team uniforms?


Ewww!! The USA uniforms may have been made in China, but at least they looked as though they belonged with the ol’ Red White & Blue. I don’t know what the Russian designers were thinking about . . . but I think the 1960’s are calling for those jackets back.

Some men can rock a beard, but alas . . .


Some cannot. Navarro from Spain really needs to rethink this look.

How much do I love watching Usain Bolt run?


He has the longest strides and makes it look so easy . . . I wish I could run like that!

Last night was a FABULOUS night – went to Charlotte to catch the Def Leppard concert!! Yes, that probably makes the 25th time, but I don’t care. I love, love, love them and they sounded great!!


They put on a super show and played a lot of songs they haven’t played in a LONG time. Too much fun!! Of course, I sang along to every word and danced my bootie off and my sweetie-pie, the long-suffering Hud, just stood there like a lump . . . but it was a blast!!

Go team USA!!  Why is it, even though we knew the Dream Team, USA Men’s Basketball team, was going to win gold – when they actually do win, it brings tears to my eyes? I am such a sentimental sap!!

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Pepper says next time Hud and I go to Charlotte for the day, she would just as soon be left inside the house, rather than outside in the "weather" - despite the fact that she and the other mutts have a screened in porch on which they can stay high and dry. No, for some reason they must run around in the rain and come inside soaking wet - every time. Crazy ol' dogs!