Wednesday, September 30, 2015


I do not spend a lot of money on luggage.

I do travel a good bit, but it's usually on business and no one who knows me ever sees my bags.  All I care about is how much stuff I can get in it and how easily it rolls.
My current "go to" piece of luggage was purchased at Walmart about 10 years ago.  I like it because it has a pull handle and you can either roll it behind you, or you can roll it beside you...the wheels are "spinner" type wheels so they are multi-directional.  There's even a zippered expander for the main compartment.
I can get more stuff in this bag than I can afford for it to weigh. (Anything over 50 lbs will cost you more on most airlines).
I think I paid $48.95 for it.

Two weeks ago, I flew to Maryland on a business trip, and my luggage served me just fine.  Before I left, I had to get the lint roller and de-cat-hair the outside...because the cats LOVE my luggage. I got home from that trip and unpacked and then repacked to go stay with my mother for her knee surgery.

My mother says that my bag has to go.

She was hopped up on pain pills when I went down to the car and brought my bag up to the hospital room, and she was brutally honest with me.

Iz good to stand besides and sharpens your clawz

Iz also good to stand on top of and sharpens your clawz

On the other hand, you know how there's signs at the airport that tell you to look carefully before you take off with your luggage because lots of bags look alike? I don't have that problem.

Plus, no one is ever going to try to steal it.

She told me that my bag was an embarrassment and made me throw a blanket over it so the nurses wouldn't see.
I really had not taken a good hard look at it in awhile...because it was still functioning just fine.

But she may have a point.

I think my next luggage purchase will need to be a hard shell.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The long and short of it

My daughter took my hand, leaned in close and looked me square in the eye.

"Mom." she said firmly, carefully enunciating her words. "I think it is AWESOME that you can fit into the shorts that you haven't been able to wear since the 90's. I. Am. So. Proud. Of. You."

"Awwww, sweetie, thanks! That means..."

"Hold on. I'm not finished.  I DO think it is awesome.  But I'm going to need you to do something for me."

"Huh?  What?"

"When you get home, I need you to take them off and throw them away."

"But why? I don't underst...."

"Mother.  Listen to me."


"Those shorts are corduroy. And faded. And well, they are just horrible."

"It's a narrow wale corduroy! I mean it's not like..."

"Mother, I swear to God, I will light them on fire right now."

"Fiiiiine.  I won't wear them again."

Are they really that bad?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The eyes have it

Today...sometime about 8 hours after I put them on, I noticed that I was wearing the wrong pair of glasses.  I was wearing my daughter's, and to be fair, we have the same prescription.  I don't know how I got them, though, since she doesn't live at home anymore. Oooo...I wonder if I picked them up last weekend when her dad and I crashed at her place after tailgating in Tuscaloosa for 12 straight hours?

Anyway, the reason I FINALLY noticed they were hers is because they were bugging my nose and I realized that they were missing an eye piece.

I decided to go get my dollar-store reading glasses and scavenge the eye piece off of them.  So I get my little tool kit out and get the eye piece off of my reading glasses...then I realize I can't see well enough to put the itty bitty screw into the hole of the glasses that I apparently stole from my daughter when I stayed at her house last weekend.  Oh yeah!  That's why I HAVE reading glasses...I remember now.

So here's where I'm at now...I've lost BOTH of the itty bitty screws and now can't reattach the nose piece to either the regular glasses or my reading glasses.
I can neither see near or far.
How was your day?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Requiem for Rosie

Yesterday, my sweet 15-year old Lab Mix, Rosie died.  I had been really concerned about her for quite some time.  I mean...15 is OLD for a dog her size.  And she was missing a leg.

Here's a picture of her when she still had all of her appendages.

She and Mileena had been napping.  Rosie had just given her "sugar".  Mileena was all, "Ew, dog slobber!"
When Rosie was fairly young, she was hit by a car.  She survived the accident but had some significant damage to the nerves in her shoulder.  The vet begged me repeatedly to just let him remove the leg.  But I HATED the idea of her losing her leg.  So we went to great lengths to help her keep it.  Every morning and evening, I did rehab exercises with her.  And she did get to where she could use it to some extent...sort of like a crutch.  But she kept it scraped up...and then she'd obsessively lick it.  So I ended up ordering her specially made boots from Ireland:

I spent more on footwear for my dog back then than I did on myself.

And the vet put her on doggie Prozac for her OCD. (I know!)   Eventually, however, she got it pretty seriously infected and we ended up letting the vet remove it.
She never even missed it.  She was running around the backyard 2 days after her surgery looking A LOT happier than when she'd been dealing with her leg that didn't work too well.
Jeff even taught her to "air shake"...He'd have her sit, then put out his hand and say "Air shake!" and her little shoulder knob would make the motions like she was doing her shake.  She was very proud of herself.

She was a very happy dog.  She got along with all of the cats.  She was well loved by the other two dogs.  She was a very, very good girl.
In honor of her passing...I will share with you (for some of you...I'm sharing again) one of Rosie's finest hours.
I give you the story of: Rosie, Possum-Slayer!

Back in 2007-2008, my husband, Jeff, and I spent about a year taking his parents to Tulsa, Oklahoma from Anniston, Alabama for his dad’s chemo treatments at the Cancer Treatment Center of America.  (This was before CTCA built a center in Atlanta). His treatments were 6 weeks apart, and we took turns taking them.  Usually we would drive them, but one trip in early January, not being confident on how the weather would behave, and since we’re from Alabama and all we know how to do if it snows is buy milk and bread, we were flying.  This trip was an especially bad one.  It seemed like everything that could go wrong, did.  After three days in the land of chemotherapy we were on our way back THROUGH the Dallas airport with a 4 hour layover.  (I have discovered that you cannot get from Birmingham, Alabama to Tulsa, Oklahoma.  It is NOT DONE.  You have to sneak in from another city, like Dallas or Atlanta or Houston.)  Anyway, finally, at 8:00 pm we have landed back in B’ham and are ready to get our bags, get the van and head home…that takes ‘til about 9:00.  And of course it is POURING DOWN rain.  I am white-knuckling the steering wheel for the first 25 miles, when the rain finally lets up enough for me to call Jeff and tell him that I’m about 35-40 minutes away from home.
I get the in-laws home, and drive to our house.  When I get there, Jeff gets my bags out of the van, hands me a drink that he's already made for me and tells me that I should grab a book and Rosie, the three-legged wonder dog and go sit where I can hear the rain and unwind and relax a bit.  It’s about 10:30 by this time and I’m wound tighter than a spring.  “Don’t worry about anything, babe, I’ll unpack your bag,” he says.  So...I raise the garage door, get a book, my drink, and a camp chair and invite Rosie to join me in the garage as I start trying to loosen up. 
Pictured above: Rosie, the wonder dog, giving a terrifying yawn) 
I’m readin’ and sippin’ and starting to unwind a bit when out of the corner of my eye, I catch something moving.  I look up, and there is a POSSUM crossing the driveway.  Not a big possum, one about double the size of a squirrel, but STILL!!!  Are possums not the most skanky looking animals in the WORLD (or at least in the Southeast) or what? 

Well, Rosie jumps up and runs her three-legged self right out into the driving rain, runs around the car parked in the drive and then comes back WITH THE POSSUM IN HER MOUTH!!!  She’s trotting around in the driveway, getting soaking wet, when I holler at her (I want to say right here that I am a college degreed mechanical engineer, but certain circumstances cause me to revert to behavior such as HOLLERIN’) “Rosie, drop that possum RIGHT NOW!”  She opens her mouth and THUD!  Right in the middle of my driveway she drops the dead possum and comes back up the drive and into the garage.  I shoo her in the house, and walk to the bottom of the stairs and holler (I’m still in hollerin’ mode), “Jeff!  YOUR DOG has killed something!”  I then stalk back out to the garage and sit back down in my chair and look at the possum…it’s still in the drive, it’s fur getting all matted and nasty looking in the rain.  Jeff comes out and takes a look…he’s barefoot, because he had gotten up in a hurry to see exactly what was going on.  Then he actually looks at me and says, “Ah, I can’t get it, I’m barefoot.”  I put THE LOOK on my face and said, “Look, bucko, if you think I am going to deal with a dead, nasty BEAST after the three days I have put in…not to mention the NERVE WRACKING drive I just made, you are so, so mistaken.  I’m sure if you look it up, dead animals DEFINITELY falls under the “Man Duty” heading.  You may have been lucky enough to marry a woman who can put the gas grill together, but I am NOT taking care of a dead possum.”  I believe I had my hand on my hip by this point.

So Jeff shuffles barefoot back into the house (I hear him stop to praise Rosie for being such a “good girl, gettin’ that bad ole possum”) and up the stairs to get his shoes.  He’s up there awhile…maybe 10 minutes.  Then I hear him back in the kitchen looking for rubber gloves (wuss) and getting a trash bag.  I’m trying to read my book and sip my drink, but I keep looking up at the carcass in my drive.  Jeff’s still banging away in the kitchen after the rubber gloves (you KNOW he really wants me to come in and find them for him) when the possum TWITCHES!!  Creepy, unnatural, not healthy-like twitchin’…
"Well, crap!”, I say to myself,  “The only thing worse than a DEAD POSSUM in my driveway is a HALF-DEAD POSSUM in my driveway.”  I’m thinking that Jeff’s going to have to go to the shed and get the shovel and put the poor (but disgusting) thing out of its misery.  This is not going to make anyone’s night…not mine, not Jeff’s, certainly not the possum’s.  I stand up to go give him the good news, just as the possum raises its head…it looks around, gets to its feet, gives itself a good shake and then trots on off to the bushes.  The tip of its gross, pink rat-tail had just vanished under the boxwoods as Jeff comes out of the kitchen and into the garage.  He has donned his rubber gloves and has the possum disposal bag in hand.  His jaw is set as he gets ready to do his manly duty…and I have to tell him that the possum was, well, playin’ possum.  It had lain there mouth open, eyes glassy, fur matted in the torrential downpour for AT LEAST 15 minutes, and then just trotted off!!  We both go back inside, Jeff stripping off the rubber gloves…to be confronted by Rosie...who is in quite a state.  She is giving us such a REPROACHFUL look that I can almost hear what she is thinking which must have been something like, “I am a three-legged dog…do you KNOW how often I see any kind of action like that?  Not only do you call me OFF my possum, but then you let it get away.” I did the only thing I could do to make amends…I gave her some bacon and promised her I’d tell EVERYONE what a brave, brave dog she was for “gitin’ that possum.” 

R.I.P., sweet girl.  I will miss you.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Marianne & Mileena's Magical Meanderings

I moved my daughter back to Tuscaloosa a few weeks ago.  She is starting her second year at the University of Alabama.  She had to go back early so she could attend Recruitment workshops with her sorority prior to Rush week.
I was never in a sorority...primarily because I was footing the bill for college and living expenses myself and preferred to purchase groceries instead of chapter dues.  So I really do not have a clue about how important some activities are versus others.

Sororities at Alabama take recruitment workshops very seriously.

We had left with plenty of time (we thought) to get to Mileena's new place, unload, and let her take off to attend the workshop while I helped get her things unpacked.  After  the workshop, she'd come back and we'd wrap things up.

However, the best laid plans of mice and men (and gamma phis and their mommas, apparently) often go awry.

20 miles from the exit to Tuscaloosa, a transfer truck somehow broke in half.  Here's the front half: 

The other half was strewn down I-20 for the next three miles.  The truck driver appeared to be fine...he was standing on the side of the road with the state troopers.  For the life of me, I couldn't figure out what happened.  The cab of the truck and the first half of the trailer were on their sides in the ditch, while bits and pieces of the other have had been obliterated and scattered on the road.  Regardless, we were stuck in traffic for at least 30 minutes.

Then we got off of the interstate, travelled down McFarland Blvd (McFarland Blvd is always, always rotten with traffic) and turned onto find that they had removed the bridge. 

We found a place to pull over (Mileena had a load in her SUV, I had the rest in the van).  She rolled down her window and yelled, "It was just there two days ago!  I swear to God!"
So we tried to use our iphones to find a different route, but Siri INSISTED that the bridge was still there and didn't want us to go any other way.  We finally just meandered around until we found a way across the Black Warrior River and then used the Map directions to bring us in.
We got to the front office at Mileena's new community to pay her early check-in fee and get the keys to her new place.  There were approximately 7800 other people moving in on the same day (which wasn't even "move in day"...we were a week early).
Finally at the front of the check-in desk, I gave the girl handing out new resident packettes my debit card.
"Sorry, ma'am, we don't take cards."
"This is the card I used online to pay the rent."
"Sorry, ma'am, we can't use a card to pay the early move-in fee."
"Can I go online and pay it?"
"No, ma'am.  Not for the early fee.  You have to pay it here and we don't take cards.  Do you have a check?"

Well, as luck would have it, I had run out of checks several days prior.  I had placed an order for new checks, but did not have any with me.  Mileena's checkbook was God-knows where in the eleventy-five boxes we had in our two vehicles.  So we sat on the curb and combined our liquid assets.  With what we had in our Jeff's "secret stash" he keeps in the van for drive-thru, we had $101 in cash (plus whatever coins we had in the van ashtray.)

We got in line again with the other 55 eighteen to twenty-two year olds...
"I'm so sorry!  We don't take cash."
"You don't take CASH?  How can you not take cash?"
"I know, right?  But look, if you go out to the road and take a right, you can go to the Piggly Wiggly and get a money order."
(Yes.  The Piggly Wiggly.  It's a thing here in the South.)
"You will take a money order but not cash?"
"I'm afraid so.  Or a cashier's check. Sorry, ma'am"
(And however much I appreciate the good raisin' of this young lady...all of the Ma'am-ing combined with the fact that every other individual on the place was LESS than half my age was starting to make me feel ancient.)

So we get into the van and take a right...and end up back at the place where the bridge used to be, but now we're on the other side...and we can SEE the Piggly Wiggly from there. But the Black Warrior River is once again in our way.

So we ask Siri for directions to the Piggly Wiggly.  She starts routing us around until:

Mileena at this point sends the following message out to several of her sorority sisters:

I AM SO SORRY that I'm late.  We got to my neighborhood and they informed me that they do not take cards or cash for your move-in fee.  They sent us to the nearest place to get a money order because they only take money orders or checks (the only two forms of money that NO ONE WANTS).  Upon trying to find somewhere, we encountered a completely blocked off road.  Will someone please tell the workshop lead that I am literally trying my hardest to get there but that I have apparently pissed off karma and now the world is running against me...If you don't hear from me soon, know that Siri killed me and my mom on our adventure.  She has already tried to send us to Hogwarts via 9 1/2 Street East.

I went into the Piggly Wiggly and asked if I could get a money order.  I was told that I'd have to wait 7 minutes until the "office" opened. Okay, I waited by the office window.  After 7 minutes, one of the two ladies who I'd asked about the money order walked over and unlocked the office, went around to the window and asked, "Can I help you?" 
"Yes" (through gritted teeth) "I need a $100 money order."

"Okay!  That'll be $102.50!"

Are. You. Kidding. Me?

I had brought the $101 in with me.  I was a buck fifty short.

"Do you have an ATM?"

"No, ma'am.  But if you purchase something, you can get up to $40 cash back."

I went around the "office", snatched the first thing I laid my hand on (a bag of Haribo gummy bears) and got in line at the only open register behind someone with a full buggy load (because of course it was) of groceries.

I FINALLY got the money order...we circumnavigated the globe once again to get to the other side of the river and got Mileena checked in.

We hurriedly slung everything out of her vehicle so that she could make it to at least PART of the workshop and not earn a fine. I was left to get the rest of the crap in and try to make some sense where things should go.  Six hours later (and several trips to Target for things I hadn't realized she'd living is different from dorm living) I was sweaty, dirty and hungry (those gummy bears were just not appealing to me).  But I had my daughter more or less established in her new abode, she was still in good graces with her sorority, and I could drag my tired self home in my now-empty van.

I got home and showered and opened myself up a bottle of wine and thought about how...even with all of the mishaps, I had had fun on my adventure with my now (mostly) adult daughter.  And I know that this is one of those tales we will share with others for years to come.

But I would have liked to have met Dumbledore.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Hair's lookin' at you

First, I apologize for the incredibly lame pun.  But when I started this post and named it..."Hair's lookin' at you"  popped into my head and then I couldn't think  of anything better.

"Splitting hairs?"
"My hairy situation?"

Anyway...this post is about my hair.

I don't want to brag, but I have always had great hair. Old, young, thin, overweight, whatever...I have had great hair.  It has been the one thing about myself I have never wanted to change.  My hair has always been thick and grown fast.  I have twice grown it out and donated whole 10" long ponytails to Locks of Love.

Even when I have been at my heaviest, my hair still looked good.  I have actually found myself looking at pictures of me over the last few years and thinking, "Hmmm...who's the fat chick with the awesome hair?"

Some examples:

Well, as I have recently posted (here), I have had the vertical gastric sleeve.  And it has been great.

I'm now down to my lowest weight in almost two decades. And I LOVE IT!

Some milestones:
Last year, when I said I was DETERMINED to lose weight through diet and daughter made me a little gift to encourage me:
She got these two glass vases, decorated them and filled the one on the left with one hundred flat little stone thingies...each stone represented a pound.  She made them all pretty and even made it so the one on the right has lines for every ten stones and we could "celebrate" every time I clicked off another 10 pounds.  It was supposed to make it like a fun game.

I hated that game.

Those stones went back and forth too many times to count.

Well...since I started this journey "for real," the "game" got a lot more fun.  This past weekend, the vases were even.  I almost cried.

50 pounds down, 50 to go. (actually, this morning it was 51 down and 49 to go)

Another milestone?  I got to shop in the "normal" section for clothes the other day.  I even had to put an XL shirt back and get an L.  When that happened, I actually did cry.

Everything is FANTASTIC!


My hair is thinning.  Like, seriously, Jeff has had to put two whole containers of Drano down the shower drain in the past week.  My hair brush looks like a small animal when I brush my hair in the mornings.  I have a lint roller in every room in the house.  I'm shedding more than my Golden Retriever.
I know in the big scheme of things, this should not be such a big deal.  I was told to be prepared for it...that it's the body's natural response to rapid weight loss (and hey, I'm all about the rapid). And the "thinning" (that's what the doctor calls it...I call it "the falling out") will eventually stop and then my hair growth will go back to normal and Hey! one day I will be thin and it will all be worth it.

But it's MY HAIR.  My faithful, faithful hair.

Thank the Good Lord I have a talented and wonderful beautician (shout out to Jennifer Neyman...John Christopher Salon, 1720 Hamric Drive Oxford).  I went in and we decided what to do to make the volume loss less noticeable.

She's practically a wizard.

So...I'm at my lowest weight in nearly two decades and my hair is at its shortest in nearly the same length of time.

But...I think I can live with it.  Of course, I don't have much choice at this point...

Hopefully I won't have to take up wearing hats!

Thursday, August 20, 2015


I think I may be on the trail of discovering a new species of hawk in Alabama.
I have often seen Buteo Jaicenis (Red-tailed hawks):

Photo from the Alabama Coorperative Extension System

Or Buteo lineatus (Red-shouldered hawks):

This photo also from

Both of these species of hawk are well known for their eyesight, their piercing scream and their hunting prowess.

That's why I believe that the hawk that lives in my neighborhood is perhaps a new species, unrelated to these fierce, efficient hunters.
This new hawk will be named Buteo Bytrum-digitus, or the Butter-fingered hawk.  I suspect that this hawk is pretty rare...possibly on the verge of extinction before it is ever properly discovered and its existence documented.  My suspicions are based on the fact that this hawk seems lose at least half of its meal every time it hunts. 

Also, it appears that this majestic bird of prey is indigenous to my back yard. The first sighting of the Butter-fingered Hawk happened while the whole family was outside on our (very weathered) deck.  Jeff and I were standing on the deck.  The kiddo was throwing a ball to the dogs.  Then we heard this shriek!  All movement stopped and we saw something small come plummeting toward us.  The three of us all sorta ducked for cover....then we heard a small, kind of wet-sounding thud:

This photo courtesy of Jeff's cell phone.

Well, there's something you don't nearly get hit in the head with every day...a chipmunk butt.  Like, LITERALLY a chipmunk butt.  Jeff shot a quick pic and then had to wrestle the chipmunk half away from the dogs.  They assumed that it had started raining manna from Heaven.

A few weeks later, I went to the edge of the yard to check the blueberry bushes we have there and caught the odor of something foul.  I didn't actually SEE the Butter-fingered Hawk this time...but this certainly seemed to fit his M.O:

Yes, my photo is blurry but that's because I was trying not to toss my cookies at the overpowering stench of the rotting chipmunk carcass.  The dogs wanted me to give it to them SOOOOO BAD. (Not happening, you fie-hounds.  I don't care how DELICIOUS it seemed, or how much fun you would have had rolling all over this gooey carcass until you smelled like Hell on a Rampage, no dead chipmunk for you!) on the lookout for sightings of this rare and wonderful (if you are a dog) bird. ready to duck, because...ew.