Thursday, August 20, 2015

Butterfingers




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 www.aces.edu


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!)


So...be on the lookout for sightings of this rare and wonderful (if you are a dog) bird.  Also...be ready to duck, because...ew.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The skinny about (my) fat

Once upon a time, through no fault (or merit) of my own, I was a thin person.


Actually, at the age of oh...22 or so I had a ROCKIN' HOT body.






Acid washed jeans and ankle boots aside, I love this picture.  Did I have an adult beverage in my right hand throughout the entire decade of the 90s?  Photographic evidence points to "yes."



 
Then I got fat.


I wish I had a good reason to put here for why I got fat.  For awhile...about 15 years ago, I went to Weight Watchers meetings and heard all kinds of reasons for getting fat.  From physical...like thyroid problems and low metabolism...to psychological...like "eating your feelings" and stress eating, etc.  Here's the truth behind my weight gain:


1. I like to eat food that tastes good.  Sadly, good-tasting food is usually high in fat and/or calories.  That's why it TASTES good.


2. Unless I can pretty much count on an orgasm at the end of it...I do not like activities that make me sweat.


That is it.  Period.  I was not suffering from self-esteem issues.  I was not compensating because I was never my mother's favorite.  I did not equate food with love.


I was simply taking in more calories than I was expending.  And I did it for 24+ years.



Now, I would like to point out that at no point was I hating my life.  In the picture above?  The project that I had been working on for the past 10 years of my life was being inducted into the Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame.  I was part of that because I am a damn good engineer.
I have a husband that I love.  We have a beautiful daughter.  We live in a nice house.  I love my job and my friends and my family and my pets.  And even at my heaviest, when I was tipping the scales at over 250 pounds (how much over...that's between me and my doctor) I didn't hate the way I looked.  I knew that I was overweight...but I never considered myself in the gag-a-goat ugly category because of it.

Did I wish I weighed less?  Yes.
Did I wish it enough to not eat whatever whenever I wanted it?
Did I wish it enough to go to the gym and sweat consistently?

Negative Ghost Rider...the pattern is full.

So I kept right on going...until I went too far.
That extra poundage was taking a toll on my health.

I had sleep apnea, high blood pressure and gastroesophageal reflux disease of Biblical proportions.

That last one led me to Dr. Black.  I HAD to have a Nissen procedure.  And he recommended I have a gastric sleeve procedure as well.  Because I was fat.  Too fat.  Life-shortening fat.  Dr. Black is a fantastic doctor...but he's not gonna pull any punches and pat your head and tell you it's okay because you still have a pretty face.

But then again, I still had my two basic problems...love of good food and hate of non-orgasmic physical activities.  Wasn't I just gonna end up where I started?

Well...happily, when they go in and cut out a large portion of your stomach...they cut out the section that produces the hormones that tell you that you are hungry.  Also...and the "why" of this was never really explained to me...your tastes change.  I still want what I want...but what I want is now different.  Fried and dough-y foods make me cringe now.  I used to LOVE bread...now?  Meh.  Fruits and veggies taste better now.  No lie.

As far as exercise...for the first six weeks, the injunction was: "Walk or you'll get a blood clot that will kill you."  Soooo...that was motivation.  I do hate to sweat...but I hate to die even worse.

A friend of mine had this on his Facebook feed:



After the 6 weeks?  "Exercise or you will have great big rolls of extra skin that you will have to have a painful surgery to get rid of."  Anyone who knows me knows that I am a wienie.  A big ole chicken wienie.  I don't like pain or stitches or drain tubes or any of that.  20 minutes a day on a treadmill for pain avoidance?  Done. 

And so far?  I am headed in the right direction:





Picture on the left is of my daughter's BFF (and my practically adopted second daughter)...it was taken just days before the surgery.  The one on the right was taken 2 months post op.


I have to tell you... I feel great.  My sleep is SO much better.  The apnea thing is long gone and I haven't had heartburn at all.  My energy levels are fantastic (partly from not lugging around the 48 pounds that I've lost so far...partly from getting a decent night's sleep).

And I can't lie...I'm pretty excited about the fact that I am ALMOST at the point where I can shop in the regular section and not in the "Plus" section (usually the three racks over by the bathroom/customer service area).

It's a bit embarrassing to just throw it out there that I let myself get so far out of hand.  It's embarrassing to admit that I couldn't get myself back IN hand without help.  But there it is.  I got too fat and I needed help to get un-fat.

This is really one of the nicest things I've ever done for myself.  Wish me luck on the rest of the journey...





Thursday, August 13, 2015

Septuagenarian Sex Scandal: Southern Style


During this political season, I'd like to remind everyone that NO ONE does a political sex scandal like we do them in the south.

Last week, we had a prime example.

I. AM. NOT. MAKING. ANY. OF. THIS. UP.

Meet Benny:

Is it just me, or does Benny look like Alfred after a long night out partying with Master Bruce?
Benny is 71.  He was co-host of a local public access political program called "In the Interest of the People."

This is Larry and Charlotte:








Larry is Benny's best friend.  Additionally, he is the mayor.  He is 74 years old.  To Larry's left is Charlotte...she's Benny's wife.  She would co-host in Benny's place sometimes when Benny was too busy for "In the Interest of the People."  She is also a local business owner.

Apparently, Benny was a little worried about his dear wife working all of the late hours that she was working at the little ole shop she owned...a liquor store.  Also, I'm sure he was also concerned that something would happen to his good friend Mayor Larry, who often did the books for Charlotte.  So he installed a camera.

I guess in the little town of Talladega, AL, "doing the books" is code for what Shakespeare called, "Making the beast with two backs." (Shakespeare really said that...look it up.)  Someone who has seen the video told the local newspaper that the activities recorded were "full blown"  (hahah, full blown...snort) and "gives me hope for when I'm 70."

In a surprise to no one, Benny and Charlotte filed for divorce.  Benny also decided to quit co-hosting "In the Interest of the People."

Evidently, withdrawing his talent and wit from "In the Interest of the People" was not enough vengeance for Beny.  So last Saturday, Benny road a bicycle over 13 miles in August in Alabama where it is approximately 112 degrees in the shade to lie in wait for Larry outside of the place where Larry cuts hair as a part-time job when he isn't busy mayoring. (Still not making it up).  When Larry arrived to begin his day of hair cutting and styling, Benny jumped him and commenced to whaling on Larry with an object that resembled a sawed-off baseball bat.  (That's what the paper said.  I'm going to assume it WAS, in fact, a sawed-off baseball bat because I can't imagine what else resembles one.)

Benny had disguised himself by wearing some sort of garment with a hood (did I mention the part where it is hotter than the hinges of Hell here in Alabama?)  But in the middle of getting whomped-up-on, Larry pulled the hood off and realized that his assailant was his cuckolded former friend, Benny.  To quote the good mayor, "I was able to stand up and kneed him in the balls.  Then I kicked him there twice."  At this point, Benny got himself up off the ground and tried to make a get-away on his (God help us all) bicycle, but was detained by bystanders.  (Please remember with all of the bats and balls and bikes, that these guys are not 12, they are in their 70s)
Sometime during this whole fracas, someone called the popo, who showed up in time to cart Benny away where he was arrested and placed under a $150,000 bond.

Mayor Larry was taken to a nearby hospital where he gave his account of events to the police and then later the media...his wife, Mary, was loyally by his side.

Mary, honey, here's some advice.  There's not a judge in the world who won't award you EVERYTHING at this point.

I have no idea what Benny is looking like following all of this, but here's a picture of Mayor Larry (wearing his best Fruit of the Loom T-shirt):




New Panda, China No. 1 Buffet, and Panda Express are all vying for Mayor Larry to become their new spokesman. (Wait for it....)(Hat tip to my friend, Bobby.)

Update: Bobby sent me this...I had to share:






Monday, July 27, 2015

Mercy


Jeff has an Ugly Brown Chair.  It IS kinda cool.  It IS very comfortable.  It is a great place for man and beast alike to nap. (Caution: after the 6th month, pregnant women should not attempt to nap in the Ugly Brown Chair.  It will take a chainfall to extract them.) (Yes, I speak from experience.)

However, none of that changes its appearance.

The Ugly Brown Chair has many, many holes in its upholstery. (Was faux fur furniture covering in the 70's called upholstery?) To prevent the spread of jiblets of Ugly Brown Chair stuffing throughout the entire house, the Ugly Brown Chair usually has a (fur-covered) ESPN stadium blanket thrown across it. This keeps the plethora of animals that track in and out of the Ugly Brown Chair from further digging into the foam as well as keeping the already loosened bits from sticking in their fur once they have napped and are free to wander about.



A couple of weeks ago, the lovely Meg was in town.  I met up with her and our mutual friend Jacquie for lunch.  Meg told us that she'd probably have another friend with her...Robby.  Robby is a very talented interior design guru.  Also, a very nice guy.  We got to see some photos of his work.  I was very impressed...he was a guy that salvages a lot of used things to make very beautiful, eclectic room re-dos.  He had pictures of a whole fireplace wall/mantle thingy made entirely of old pallet wood.  It was awesome.

After our lunch, I got to thinking...maybe Robby could provide me some insight on what to do with Ugly Brown Chair that would preserve its usefulness, coolness and comfort while helping it not be so...well...ugly.

I texted Meg and told her that I would send her some pictures if she would be so kind as to forward them to Robby for his expert opinion.

I took off the protective ESPN blanket covering to give him the full perspective:





I was told that the kindest thing I could do was give Ugly Brown Chair a mercy killing.

So now I have to ask those of you out there who are reading this...is there naught to be done to save UBC?




Monday, July 6, 2015

Airing your laundry


This may just be my favorite photograph of all time.  Left to right we have: My sister Christy, my Granny, my cousin Jackie and myself.

Flapping in the breeze? 3 pairs of my Granny's underpants (or as we called 'em, drawers).

We are all on the incredibly unsafe swing set that was in Granny's side yard. That see-saw thingy that Christy and Granny are on?  Nearly claimed the last digit of my left pinkie finger.  The swings?  There's no stinkin' plastic tubing around those links, nosirree. You had to be careful and not let them pinch the hide off of you. It must be fairly new in this picture because all of the plastic caps are still on the ends of the tubing...that was not the case in later years when the sharp, rusty ends were just tetanus looking for a place to happen (plus wasps hid all up in there.)  Also?, if Jackie and I got to swinging together, we could get the frame's legs to tilt off the ground.  We turned the whole kit and caboodle over more than a few times.

There is so much I love about this picture and the memories it evokes.

Granny's in her curlers...which means this was probably taken on a Saturday since she was "setting" her hair for church on Sunday.
There's not a shoe in sight...for any of us.  Back in the day, between May and September I had to be forced into footwear of any kind.
And of course the clothesline in the back...many, many times we'd be playing away and a cloud would come up...then we knew to race into the house for a clothes basket to get the laundry in before it got rained on.  Granny didn't use the dryer in the summer...it had to get pretty darn rainy for days for her not to use the clothesline.  My favorite thing was when she did the sheets...we'd run up and down between the hung sheets shrieking like banshees...careful not to TOUCH the sheets and get them dirty.

It's too bad the picture isn't wider or you'd be able to see the trash  burning barrel that would have been just a bit further to the left and well behind us.  Basically a 55 gallon drum that we burned the household trash in...all of the scraps were thrown out for the possums, anything that wouldn't stink was burned in the burning barrel.  I remember keeping the milk jugs back so that once the fire got going good, you could hold them up over the fire and watch them melt.  There's really no telling what sorts of fumes I inhaled.

(Funny story: Once when Christy was in her early 20s, she was visiting a friend's apartment in Atlanta.  They had dinner and the friend went to go pick up some ice cream for dessert while Christy cleaned up the kitchen.  The apartment was on the second floor and had a balcony. The friend comes back, goes upstairs to the apartment and asks Christy why was there  spaghetti in the bushes downstairs...Christy told them that she threw the scraps out.  Apparently, not something you do "in the city.")

Monday, June 29, 2015

Grand

Last month, Jeff and I went on a trip...just the two of us to the beach to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. (Yay us!)  Our daughter was home from college for the summer so we didn't even have to worry about getting someone to come over and care for the pets.
We had a great time and were much relaxed when we got home.
However.
When we backed in and raised the garage and started to go in the door, there was a sticky note from our child.  Here it is:


You know, it's funny how many scenarios can race through your mind in just SECONDS when you read something like that.  Here were some thoughts that flashed through my brain:
1. She broke the entire bottle of that expensive bourbon that I have up in the liquor cabinet (just moving stuff around up there, I'm sure) and was running late and left it for us to clean up.  I'm going to kill her.
2. She DRANK that expensive bottle of bourbon, realized that she'd be in trouble and then broke the bottle so that she could SAY that she was just moving it around, left the mess so that we would SEE the broken bottle, never suspect that she drank something that she KNEW I brought all the way back from Kentucky and was saving for something special and even though she's apparently an evil genius I'M GOING TO FREAKING KILL HER.
3. One (or more) of the animals vomited and she pretended that she was in a hurry and didn't have time to clean it up because she HATES cleaning up things like that, as if I don't and I cannot believe she'd just leave a mess like that to clean up when she KNOWS we'd be tired from driving all day...and okay, if my bourbon is still in the liquor cabinet, this isn't so bad but still, really?
4. I hope she didn't set anything on fire...but then, what's that got to do with watching my step?
 
All of that in the 1.5 seconds it took to turn the doorknob.  I KNOW Jeff was thinking along the same lines, because we groaned in unison as we stepped through the door and.....
 
Nothing.
 
No bourbon fumes in the air...no APPARENT puke or other pet effluent (there are worse things to "watch your step" about than a hair ball...and had she left something that horrible for me to potentially step in, I would have had to hunt her down, make her clean it up and then kill her).
 
Jeff: "Why are we watching our step?"
 
Me: "I don't know."
 
"Meep."
 
Together: "What the..."
 
"MEEEEEEP!"
 


 
Now, in the past, I MAY have upon occasion threatened Mileena' life a bit if she brought anotherdamnanimalintothishouse.
 
However.
 
That was when she lived here 24/7/365.  Now?  She's only home 'til the end of July...then it's back to college where I've already paid the pet deposit for her to take one of her other beasts with her.
So this:


 
is my very first grand-kitten.  I don't have to train her. I don't have to clean up after her. I don't have to do nothin' but cuddle and love her and then bid her adieu in just another few weeks.
 
Of course, we may have to have Mileena bring her to her "grandparents" when she comes to visit.

 
Since she made her meeping little appearance, Jeff has really come to love her.



 
Daisy seems to love her.


 
Our Golden Retriever, Simba loves her.






Libby, the chaweenie?  Not so much.
 
So everyone...introducing:
 
Nalla.



 
"It's exhausting being this cute. Oh. And Roll Tide."










Saturday, June 27, 2015

When Pigs Fly

I have to admit that I was pretty slow to come to support gay marriage.  I've always believed that some people are born gay...but 15 years ago I would have said that I didn't understand why civil unions couldn't be sufficient to protect things like property rights and power of attorney and all of the legal things that needed protecting.

What has changed my mind about the right for gay people to marry hasn't been the changes that have been made to the laws of this country.  I began changing my mind about this issue as I began witnessing real people in real marriages (even if they weren't legal).  I'd like to introduce you to a couple of couples who were fundamental in changing my beliefs.

First up:
On the left is Don, on the right is Dustin.  I went to high school and graduated with Dustin (back then, we all called him Dusty).  I have forever loved Dusty.  I have ALWAYS known he was gay.  Well, let me caveat here for a minute.  When we all got together for our ten year reunion, Dusty was telling us all about how the things he and "Dawn" had been doing. "Dawn and I went on vacation here." "Dawn just loves that restaurant." "I am so glad that Dawn got these shoes for me." "Dawn and I just love living in Atlanta." "I sure wish "Dawn" could have come with me." And I thought to myself, "Hmpf...I always thought Dusty was gay.  But he seems just so happy with this "Dawn", Whaddyaknow?"
Then a year or two after the reunion a bunch of us classmates just met up with our spouses at informal gathering.  That's when Dusty introduced us to "Dawn"...aaannnd, it turns out that Dusty's Southern accent is just a tich thicker than most and that "Dawn" is how "Don" is pronounced in Dusty-speak.
Anyway, it was at this gathering that I had my first real epiphany.  The conversation went something like this:

Dustin: And then I came into the dining room and right there on the table written in the half inch of dust was, "Hi! I'm Dusty! And Dusty should dust me!"


Don: It was funny, and it was you who forgot to dust the table.

Dustin: It was NOT funny. And honestly, it would have taken you, what? 25 seconds more to just dust the table instead of leaving it like that?

Don: Yeah, well, I cleaned out the birds' cages, you know.

And so on...

And I thought to myself, "Holy crap! These two are so married."

In the ensuing years, I have watched Don and Dustin as they loved and supported each other through good times like vacations and holidays and graduations (Dustin went back to school and got his nursing degree! He rocks!) and bad times, like when Dustin dealt with the long illness and eventual death of his mother.  Don was a rock for him during the whole time Dustin's mom fought cancer...he was there with him supporting him during the funeral.
You really can't be around those two and not KNOW that they belong together.

Also?  I stay in contact with Dustin mostly through Facebook.  I have seen him ask for prayer for himself and for others in need.  I have seen him rejoice and give thanks to God.  I have seen him offer up prayers for others.  He is a kind, loving person...as is Don.

Here's the other couple that has really impacted me:
 

 
This is Cyndi and Lea.  Lea also went to my high school, but was a couple of years older than me.  I was friends with her sister, Lisa, who graduated the same year I did.  I knew Lea, but not well...just in passing.  However, when Facebook really became a thing, we became Facebook friends.
She posted pictures of their wedding (I think in 2009ish?):
 
 
And their wedding photos have always been some of my all-time favorites.  EVERYONE in them looks happy and like they are having fun.  Lea and Cyndi are obviously blissfully, happily in love.
 
And you know what else I love about being Facebook friends with Lea?  How often she posts about the church sermon she heard on Sunday, how often she is praying for this person or that...I've never met Cyndi, but I know that Lea posts frequently how blessed she is to have her in her life helping her get through the thick and thin.
Just last month, she posted a photograph of their son, Dakota getting baptized...with comments about how proud she and Cyn were of him.
 
 
So, here's what I think.  These guys?  They represent what marriage is about a whole lot better than many, many heterosexual couples.  Dustin and Don have been together 25 years.  And now that they can legally marry?  They will be doing that in a couple of weeks.  I think it's unbelievably touching that they have been together for a quarter of a century and still want to marry each other.
 
As for Lea and Cyndi...they are raising their children in a God-loving Christian home.  They attend church regularly, they participate in a good many charitable functions.  (They also ride Harleys which I think is completely bad-ass.)
Neither of these couples are a threat to "the family."  And I can see why a sterile "civil union" is not enough.
 
When the SCOTUS decision was made yesterday, I found out about it from Dustin's Facebook post...where he announced that he and Don would be getting married when Don got back from a trip.  He said that they would be "hollering "it's my wedding day, it's my wedding day" in their best Boudreaux voices!!!
 
I knew immediately what I wanted to get them for their wedding.  Boudreaux reminded me of Bordeaux, and my friend Janet Prosser who owns a wine store had introduced me to the perfect Bordeaux for my two little ole gettin' married Boudreauxs:
 
When I ran down to her store to get it, she had one bottle left...when I told her what it was for, she went ahead and gussied it up in wedding ribbon for me.
 
The loose translation of "Saint Glinglin" is "When Pigs Fly".  The literal translation is "Probably never."
I know that's when a lot of folks thought that legalized gay marriage would happen.
I think it's an appropriate wine to celebrate that it finally happened. (It's also very tasty)
 
P.S. I know what is in Leviticus and Romans.  So, I do realize what the Bible says. But to quote my beloved Granny regarding the Bible, "Honey, obey the words in red. Take the rest into consideration."