Sunday, October 25, 2015

Channeling Grandpa Again...No Zen Here

My paternal grandfather grew up in an area of western Pennsylvania riddled with winding two-lane roads.  As the family story goes, whenever he'd get stuck behind a truck in a no-passing zone, which apparently happened often, he'd start mumbling under his breath about "bastards," his epithet of choice for slow-moving vehicles.  

For the last twelve years, I've lived a good seven miles from the nearest real form of civilization on a winding, two-lane road.  In those seven miles, there are a grand total of two passing zones, neither of which is very long.  For various historical and logistical reasons, a number of older people live in my area, and to add insult to injury, this road also has a lot of truck and tractor traffic.  (What, your neighborhood roads don't have tractors and hay wagons and combines--along with sturdy Buicks--rolling along them regularly???  Ha--welcome to the boonies.)  Anyway, my recollection from Driver's Ed is that it's ok to drive as slowly as you want (within reason) as long as you pull the hell over and let people pass you if they want to drive faster than you're going.  Yeah, I'm that soccer mom in the Volvo impatiently sitting on your ass if you're poking along at 35 in a 45 zone, unless it's raining hard or snowing or there's some other good reason to be poking along.  The flip side of this is that I do actually let people by me if they want to go faster, too...after all, they might as well flush out any speed traps for me.  :)  Yes, patience is not exactly my strong suit, but we knew that.  I figure that I'm doing ok as long as my kids don't learn any new epithets from me!!  So far, so good (I think.)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Craziness Is Now Routine

Used to be that I'd get *really* pissy on Sunday nights just looking at the calendar for the following week, since it was invariably ridiculously jammed.  That situation is so normal now that I'm barely fazed by it anymore, and anyway, I've learned that whatever needs to get done will somehow get done.  This is why villages were invented, and also one major reason why I married a man who is very good with logistics. 

Case in point: Tuesday after school. Three soccer practices and two martial arts classes (all for various kids) followed by a school board meeting for me.  Not only did everyone get to everything, everyone got fed dinner somewhere along the line, including my husband.  I have to admit that I did feel a bit guilty as I watched Petunia eat takeout in her aikido gi while sitting next to me at the school board meeting and waiting for her dad to come and collect her, but it is what it is.  Welcome to the life of a normal overscheduled American family!  I'm really glad that one soccer team's season ends next week, but I'm even more glad that I'm managing to be somewhat Zen amidst the mayhem since that goes against every fiber of my being.  So far, so good.  

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Happy Dog (For NOLA)

All NOLA's talk about dogs recently has made me especially grateful for the presence of my faithful pooch, who loves nothing more than coming with me on my geocaching rambles in the woods (with the possible exception of peanut butter bones, though it's probably close.)  Whenever I put on my hiking boots, she immediately attaches herself to my hip because she knows where I'm going and she wants to come too!

Took her out on a long hike yesterday, much to her delight.  The new header pic is from that trip, BTW...just can't resist taking pics of fall leaves.  I don't try too hard either.  

Happy running dog!

Zoomed in a bit: doesn't it just look like she's smiling??

Another one of her checking out some wonderful woodsy smell or other (she's a hound mix, after all.)  Nice to be able to let her run off-leash...she stays with me very obediently.  She's a rescue and was in pretty bad shape when they got hold of her: she's apparently figured out that she's onto a good thing here and has never taken off on me.

And another of the leaves.  I've never seen this sort of rainbow effect before: pretty cool.  I need to take a real camera into the woods with me next time and not just rely on my phone for these.

This has to be my favorite recent dog picture, though: her nose to nose with a very alive (and probably very unhappy) turtle. Right after I took this picture she attempted to pick the turtle up in her mouth and walk away with it, at which point I had to intervene.  Lucky for her that it wasn't a snapping turtle!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


Himself and I have been invited to a Halloween party this year, one requiring that attendees show up in costume as a character from the Harry Potter books.  Neither of us have read the books or seen the movies and Himself is not generally one for costumes, so I was dumbfounded when he actually agreed to go.

Always the contrary one, he has decided to be James Potter, Harry's father.  Note that apparently James has the same sort of round glasses that Harry does and also wears a robe with a Gryffindor crest, so I pointed out that everyone would think he was dressed as Harry.  To which he responded by grabbing one of those "My Name Is" nametag stickers from work and writing "James Potter" on it.  Ok, that works.

I don't often do costumes either, but when I do, I go all out.  My caching partner is very familiar with the Potter series, so I asked him for costume suggestions.  It should concern me deeply that the first thought that came to his mind for me was an evil witch, but upon reflection I decided to go with his suggestion because it looks like a seriously fun costume.  Apparently this woman is named Bellatrix Lestrange...I need to look her up before the party though since I know virtually nothing about her.

There is a commercial costume available, but it looks cheap and crappy.  There are also very authentic-looking replicas available online, but they cost a bloody fortune.  My solution was to put together my own version.  A quick trip to a thrift store yielded two black dresses that I can cobble together to yield the long ratty bottom and the laced-up top (thank you Mom for all the sewing lessons!), and Amazon took care of the rest of it: a bird skull pendant, belt/corset thing and fishnet stockings.  The whole thing together might have cost me 35 bucks and it will be entertaining as hell to show up in this outfit!!  

Friday, October 9, 2015

Let's Hear It For The Girls

In my last post, I was pretty unhappy about aikido.  I left class Tuesday night wondering (and not for the first time) if I should just give it the hell up already since it just doesn't come naturally to me even after months of trying.  I had the very definite feeling that a couple of the higher belts had gotten frustrated with my lack of progress and just didn't want to work with me anymore, which as you can imagine is pretty disheartening.  

There's a significant amount of overlap between the people who take aikido and the people who take taekwondo at our dojo.  There are 25 or so aikido students, and I'd say about a third of them study taekwondo as well.  My primary taekwondo instructor is one of these, so when I made the decision to start the second style she shepherded me in socially, introducing me to the very tight-knit crew of female students right upfront.  For their part, they welcomed me into the group with open arms, both the women I'd known before and the ones who were entirely new to me.  

Fast forward to today.  One of the women I hadn't known at all before starting aikido contacted me about something aikido-related today, and I apologized for forgetting to take care of it on Tuesday because I was bummed after class.  She gave me just the loveliest pep talk on the spot, reminding me that I'm new and should cut myself some slack and telling me that she's explicitly talked to the higher belts when having a bad day herself (including one of the higher belts I was worried about) and that they enjoy working with newer students.  That was so what I needed to hear at that moment, I can't even begin to tell you.

After reading her email, I mentioned the substance of it to my husband.  He reminded me that it was the taekwondo girls who got me through the same phase four years ago when I first started taekwondo at the dojo and was fish-out-of-water miserable all the time, a phase I've mercifully mostly forgotten now that I'm borderline competent in that style (although he hasn't, clearly.)  Another reminder I needed to hear, this one in the this-too-shall-pass vein.  So tonight I will put a smile on my face, put my gi on, and try again.  Wish me luck.    

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

I Will Be The Stream

So, I went to aikido class last night.  I was looking around the room during the quiet meditation part before class starts (yes, I realize that this means I was not quietly meditating but it is what it is) and the diversity in the room struck me.  The instructor is French and my classmates included a Singaporean Chinese man, a Filipino man, an Indian woman and a Colombian woman.  Yes, there were a few other white Americans besides me as well, but in my white-bread corner of the universe, anything beyond the most token of cultural differences is not easily come by and I really love that the martial arts program in my neck of the woods draws from such a broad base.  Unfortunately, I was having another of my why the HELL am I studying this style because I just SUCK at it kind of evenings, but I am stubborn to a fault and have decided to give it a little more time before I quit in disgust, assuming that my classmates don't give up on me before then.  I would have made tracks long since if not for their encouragement, even though I am convinced that some of them think I must be the most clueless moron ever to attempt the study of aikido.  Even those who are aware that I'm actually decent at taekwondo, incidentally.

Ironically, Tuesday happens to be the evening in which there is a high belt taekwondo class immediately before aikido, and the evening's logistics dictated that I could be efficient and take both, so I did.  The taekwondo class actually went well: I earned another of the stripes I need and am now looking squarely down the barrel at the test for my Brown belt (God help me this is getting real...only two belts between me and Black.)  At least I can find my ass with both hands and a flashlight in one of the two styles I study, anyway.  Pazienza.  I really hate it when I suck at's the type A in me, I'm sure.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Is Irony The Right Word?

At the bus stop with my kids the other morning. We're discussing a birthday party invitation that Thing Two has just received via Evite.  Petunia, a bit jealous because it sounds like a fun party, comments to me that it isn't fair that Thing Two gets to go to so many more birthday parties than she does because he has more friends. (!!)

Bearing in mind that Thing Two is my language-challenged child with significant secondary social issues, the fact that my social-butterfly, ever-popular youngest could possibly have occasion to be envious of his social life stopped me dead in my tracks.  If THAT isn't a measure of how far my younger son has come in the last few years, my friends, nothing is.

Saturday, October 3, 2015


Went out to dinner with Himself tonight. We've had a rocky couple of weeks for one reason after another and needed some quiet time out together.  We decided to try a Mexican place I'd just heard about.

When we pulled into the parking lot, the noticeboard under the restaurant's sign reminded me a lot of the one below. Somebody has a good sense of humor during the fall everythingWILLbepumpkinspiceflavored season.

"Try our spiced pumpkin tacos!"  Just kidding, drink tequila instead."

Preview, Part 2

(Or maybe this should have been part 1 since it will happen first.) We dropped Thing One off at his first sleepaway soccer camp on Saturda...