Sunday, May 25, 2008
The music is only partly the reason for my fantastic mood lately, but for this post, I'll talk about the music.
This pretty much started with the debut of the self-titled, Lady Antebellum CD. I liked the first release, and even went to see the group when they played at a local sports bar. They were bright, all of them good-looking, and more than personable. I seem to really gravitate to music with a heavy bass or drum-beat, and this CD is full of pieces like that. The opener, Love Don't Live Here is great. The words are good, too, especially if you have an ex who comes to mind when this plays. It's a "feel good" song for having been done wrong. "I'm over you, and you lose!" The rest of the music: Lookin' For a Good Time, All We'd Ever Need, Love's Lookin' Good on You, Can't Take My Eyes Off You, etc are all written by members of this group in any number of combinations. The music, the lyrics, and the spirit of this group just bounces out of the speakers, making this a wonderfully enjoyable CD. Track One is particularly great if you need to get tension out. On a scale of 1 to 10, this one is a 15!
Another winner, if just a few months old, is Gary Allan's Living Hard. This one starts out with the recent hit, Watching Airplanes. Other tracks of note are We Touched the Sun, As Long as You're Looking Back. When I first listened to this collection, I thought it might be a sort of healing piece after Allen's wife's suicide. But, listening more, I have decided that while there may be some dealing with that past, Gary is really stretching his music muscles with this. He sounds like the good-looking bad boy every girl wants to try out. I first became aware of him with his Smoke Rings in the Dark. His very sexy, almost growly voice in that one got my attention so many years ago, and when I got the chance to see him in person at the American Indian Summer Festival a few years ago, I wasn't disappointed. He's wildly sexy, and his constant reminders of his wife and children were as much a turn on as if he were actually stripping onstage. The growly, raw sexiness of Allan's voice comes through on each track as if it were standing alone. Half the songs beg the listener to crank the volume (especially if you're cruising down the highway with the sunroof open) and the nearly tribal drum beats don't hurt at all. My favorite of the entire CD is Like It's a Bad Thing. The play on words, as well as the wording itself just catches me right: "They say I drive fast; Say I like to push the limit; Everyday I'm living like it was my last -- I was put here to live and love; so, what if I don't do it like everybody else does".... that one is heard best at #11 on the volume dial.... I do believe I just about have that track worn out -- can CDs wear out?
I'm also playing some more Jimmy Buffett (only about 7 weeks to the concert!), and a couple of old Toby Keith CDs--can never get enough Toby Keith. Now I'm looking at Blake Shelton. He just redid Michael Buble's Home and I love it! Hope you give some of these a listen, I think you'll like them whether or not you like Country -- these are outside the country realm. Check out Jango.com -- you can pull up anything you want to play FREE! Enjoy!
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Friday, March 21, 2008
Today is Good Friday -- the sacred Friday before Easter. It is also the day after a wondrously sunny First Day of Spring boasting 45 degrees. It is the wonderful Friday when we are sent home after working only half a day.
Well, today would have been a half-day of work ANYWAY because of the weather! The boss's ski trip might be cancelled because of snow! And the above are photos I snapped on the way home from work. Enticing, eh? (By the way, they ARE in color!)
"Welcome to Wisconsin"
You have to realize that I jest. No, not about the weather. The weather is happening, exactly as pictured above, as I type. What I'm joking about is the disgust in the weather. As Wisconsinites, we have been griping about the lack of snow for several years. I have active dogs, and we spend a lot of time outside, year-round. Without snow, I have nearly no grass left by Spring. I then spend the next four months trying to get grass to grow again. With the heavy snow cover we've enjoyed this season, I am certain to find grass just raring to be cut whenever the snow goes away. The real joke is the complaining so many people are doing these days about our winter. This year, we have finally seen winter as it used to be: cold and snowy days, again and again. I probably sound cocky because I finally have a decent car and it has a heater and it starts every day. I confess, lately, the dreary days have been getting the better of me, as well. But we have forgotten that Easter has come very early this year, and it is still the Month of March. We must lighten up!
No, I couldn't "go out and play" when I arrived home today, and I had to shovel the snow off the dog when I brought her in, but Spring will get here! I am getting my kayak gear ready -- just wait until the ice melts on the lake!
Monday, March 17, 2008
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
I called back to complain/ask for help. Was sent to tech support. Tech support took me through a whole bunch of hoops, all to no avail. I must say, that I needn't have worried about lack of exercise on THAT day! I had to unplug the cable box (the plug for that is behind the entertainment center which is snug up against the window seat and the wall); then unplug the modem box for 30 to 60 seconds (that plug is behind the computer desk, only reachable by standing on your head and squeezing between the chair and the side of the desk); unplug the wireless router (that one was easy, but I had to stand on the recliner to reach across the desk and the bookcase to where it was so the cat wouldn't toss it on the floor). I wondered if the guy on the phone could see me, because I had to repeat that exercise a few times before he gave up. He was nice enough to give me a phone number for tech support for the router company. Yay.
Of course, I wanted this resolved, so I dialed up the new tech support. I was greeted by a very young-sounding woman who didn't seem to understand me too well. EVERYTHING I said, she responded with "Uh-huh" "Uh-huh"... I kept feeling like she was just waiting for me to stop talking so she could say "Uh-huh" and feel that she was indeed helping me. The woman would be great as a psychotherapist. She had me unplug and plug things, then took me for a spin several times around and into the menus to flip switches and change readings. We chatted away about 30 minutes before she said: "I can't seem to help you, let me give you a number for one of our techs"!!!! I thought I was talking to a tech! Seems I really did get into some Big Guy's home phone and I apparently was talking to a 10-year-old! Oh, I thanked her for her help, and begged off -- I'd already been on the phone and been playing around with this for nearly three hours. I was tired, irritated, had to go to the bathroom, and was dying of thirst (forgot my trusty, rusty, ever-at-my-side water bottle in the other room). I was giving up.
The next day at work was rough, and I had no energy to call up Tech Support when I got home. Then, the weekend happened, and I had no time to play with wires. Finally, on Monday, I planned to spend at least three hours on the phone. I called the cable company, and it only took about twenty minutes to get everything working as it should through the cable. I had internet, but I couldn't unplug my laptop until the wireless was working. I called the wireless company, and this time was immediately connected to a woman who sounded like she knew what she was doing. We hit a snag when she wanted me to hook the laptop to the modem, hook the modem to the router, and hook the router to the laptop. I'd run out of wires. Glitch. Write down my case number, go buy a cable and call back later. Grrrrrrrrr.......
TUESDAY, after work ("No ma'am, my life really doesn't revolve around playing with computer equipment!"), I bought the cable, had my supper, then braced myself for some more computer abuse. I dialed in, gave my case number, and was immediately connected to a live tech. English-speaking, calm, knowledgeable. She ran a couple of tests, then had me hook up this wondrous cable monument (looked like I was playing Cat's in the Cradle with electronics--thank God, the cat was busy elsewhere!) We checked the connections, unplugged the extra cable, and....(drum-roll) it worked! I checked my email, answered a few queries, then shut the thing down. I didn't have the energy to do much more. Whew!
You know, for this same reason, I resisted buying a car with electric windows for many years -- when these things don't work, you're up the proverbial creek without a paddle; heck not even your arms to operate the paddle!
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
I spent the entire last year with absolutely no energy for my kayak. It sat in the yard, looking lost and forlorn, and all I could do was glance at it guiltily once in a while. This year has to be different. It's hard to believe that it's been nearly two years since I dumped my kayak in the sand cave up on Lake Superior. It was cold and frightening, but the group I was with boasted some pretty experienced kayakers, and two of them were able to get me back into my kayak, towed me out of the cave, bailed out the boat, and got me back on track. It was three miles back to the mainland and, as I trembled from the overuse of adrenaline, I figured if I dumped again before we made it back to shore, they could just tow my lifeless body back.....
Anyway, this year, things are going to be different. For starters, I attended two lectures on rolling a kayak -- this is one skill I want to master this year. Of course, this class was taught by a red-headed guy with an accent (not sure if it was English or Australian), and I have no idea why that appeals to me so, but I was ready to follow him into heavy seas. I picked up a new set of tie-downs for transporting my kayak, and a new cockpit cover. I also found a portable deck light, so I don't have to race home as the sun goes down -- I can stay out on the water after dark!
I've been chasing the sunsets with my camera, and have heard the sandhill cranes' return, although I haven't spotted them yet. With the flip of the "Daylight Savings" switch, I am beginning to feel the sap of spring movement. Now, if the snow would just go away!
I've gotten some knitting done, organized some of my photographs, am starting to learn to use my Photoshop program (found the Red-Eye tool!!!!), the last week, I've put in at least six hours on the phone with various techies to restore my internet after my cable company screwed it up. I think I've caught up with almost all of the past episodes of Two and a Half Men (can't seem to get enough!) and now I'm obsessing about the Gene Simmons series. I've never been a Kiss fan, but that guy rocks! Love it!
Soonly, as daylight takes hold over dark, maybe all this snow will begin to melt, and there will be solid ground beneath. At that time, my quest resumes to get this place packed up and find a real house in which to live. Wish me luck!
Thursday, February 21, 2008
The difference is, we were able to stay home from school, build snow forts, and go ice skating in the backyard. Now, the agenda entails making the sidewalk navigable, clearing the nearest fireplug, shoveling the driveway so I can get in and out for work, trying to walk the dog in all of this - particularly hard when the temperature makes it difficult to bear being outside. Sure, we can still build the snow forts and ice skate, but after a full day at work, and then the fight to keep a status quo at the homestead, who has the energy?
Times like this, I argue that Man is a creature who was meant to hibernate like the bears. Face it, we start putting up for the winter -- lay in the wool sweaters, get out the boots and comforters. A lot of us seem to have the tendency to bulk up at that time of year, as well. And with the shorter days, snoozing away the winter is a mighty tempting notion. As a positive person, I look forward to winter because I can pull my turtlenecks out of storage, and all the items I've been knitting get some use. True, when it's REALLY cold, I don't like to go outside, and when it snows a lot, I can't walk the dog ANYWHERE. But, Christmas is coming, and the chill in the air is invigorating, and I have high hopes. I rejoice on December 21st, the shortest day of the year, and then watch the skies each evening for later and later sunsets. It has worked for my state of mind for many years -- until this year. Up until Sunday, I was also enjoying the photos I was getting of the many faces of this fabulous winter.
This year is the year of weather records. The first January tornado happened just a few scant miles from my own abode. The temperatures haven't seen 30 degrees for more than a day or two since sometime in December, or was it November. We are counting a record number of inches of snowfall -- somewhere around 80 or 90 inches, last I heard. Yes, despite all that, I was still reveling in WINTER up until this past Sunday morning. What happened Sunday?
I was dog-sitting for some friends this past weekend, and I'd gotten up early to run over there and take care of the dogs. I was dressed, ready to go, and just had to take my own sweet dog out for her morning constitution. As we opened the door, I saw the wooden steps were clean, and the cement patio below them was also free of snow, but had about 1/2" inch of water pooled because it was pouring rain. No problem; I was dressed warmly, even had a hood on to keep the water off my head. I told the exuberant dog at the end of the leash to be careful because the piles of snow all around the patio were probably very slippery (you know, rain on top of snow in the cold = ice). She made it off the steps and into the snow without a problem. Turned out the ice at the bottom of my steps was incredibly clear and slick. I went from step off--straight to flat on my back in the aforementioned 1/2" of very cold rainwater. The shock of it all allowed enough time for the freezing water to soak into my down vest, cotton sweatshirt, turtleneck, jeans and even my socks! My shoes were the only things that stayed dry because they were in the air!
Of course, I couldn't get up fast, because I had no footing. My poor dog stood at the end of her leash hoping that she hadn't caused me to fall. Once on my feet, I couldn't go straight into the house -- if you tell a dog she's going out to potty, it's not polite to change the rules on her.
I changed my clothes then, and went on with my day. The dogs I tended were well-enough behaved so that I was able to let them go out into their yard while I watched over them. I was so "ice-shy" by this time, I was willing to walk around with a bucket of ice-melt the rest of the day. The cold, pouring rain continued until about three o'clock, when the temperature dropped back into "bitter cold" regions. All of the water that had fallen from the sky since morning was turning into ice. I was back to take care of the dogs twice more that day before I was able to go home, put on a bathrobe and curl up with my aches and pains.
Turned out, I wasn't terribly hurt, in fact I think the fall put my chronic hip problem back into place. But my body ached and I must have hit my shoulder good when I went down, because that started to hurt about Tuesday. I have been achy, out of sorts, and yearning for sun and warmth every waking moment since.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Another thing that is starting to drive me nuts, is the fact that I am addicted to a certain kind of datebook, and for some, unknown reason, I am so far, unable to find it! The worst part of this is that my search is taking me into every available book store and newstand around! This is dangerous! I'm supposed to be packing up my belongings and getting ready to put this place up for sale. So far, I've just been getting more boxes for more books! My new house is going to need wall to wall to wall to wall bookshelves! I've got to get these all read so I can start getting rid of them. Wish me luck!
Just a few minutes later, I was going through my mail, and my latest Bead Style magazine had come in. I was relaxing a bit, and sat back to browse through the mag. An ad caught my eye, and I was intrigued. I noticed the "www.blah-blah-blah" in the ad, and reached for the mouse. Ooops! Magazines don't come with a mouse. Again I was out of luck! Am I just burned out? Overtired? Overstimulated? Scary stuff here!
I don't know about you, Dear Reader, but with the advent of internet access at work, if the conversation in the office turns to weather, someone will click into the local weather report. We inform each other of current temperatures, lowest local gas prices, and race each other to see who can come up with a phone number without using a phone book. We've checked specials at our local restaurant, theatre times, and perusing our chosen "home page", can come up with the most bizarre facts, foibles and news du jour.
If you're location is urban, you are probably marvelling that I've FINALLY found the internet. Unfortunately, I tend to believe there are a lot more people who DON'T have this magic access and it would make their heads spin. The scary part is when we find ourselves without these conveniences.
Recently, I've taken full day trips to Chicago or Milwaukee with nothing more than my plain little cell phone to keep me connected to the rest of civilization. While driving, I find myself wondering about closing times at my favorite stores, and even debating the efficiency of driving to a store to see if they have what I want, as opposed to going online to see.
It's really crazy! I've always laughed at people who can't seem to function without their precious cell phones and laptops. I've become one of THEM!!!!!
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Lately, I've been catching up with the Janet Evanovich/Stephanie Plum series. My mother is the one who introduced me to Evanovich, and I've undertaken this completely. I started out with the "10"th book, and proceeded to search out the rest. Believe it or not, these books are not easy to come by! I usually pick up used books at rummage/garage sales, Goodwill, and other thrift shops. Over the past year and a half, I've found just ONE book, number 7.... When a temp in our office needed some reading material, I brought in some of the tomes I have here at home. She riveted on the Stephanie Plumb series, and began to ask for more. I then went online to my favorite, Half.com and came up with the rest of the series for about $30, shipping included. I pride myself on being able to find bargains.
So, I am up to Three to Get Deadly, and am taking a slight break before I get to the next episode. They are absolutely addicting, and unless I want to just "check out" of real life, I have to temper my obsession.
My daughter has given me the Carol Alt book about raw diet, which is a little slower going, but I want to absorb what I'm reading. I was literally given a taste of raw diet while I was visiting her last week. I've been eating whole foods, approximately 80% since my bout with cancer eight years ago. Studying nutrition, foods, the human body, so there is a lot of information in the book that makes sense. Also, my daughter swears that she feels so much more vibrant and full of energy when she sticks to the raw diet. I was able to sample a wonderful spinach and garlic mixture over sprouted beans, as well as a taste of the raw chocolate/banana/nut butter shake she has for breakfast. Yum! I have also just received Naked Chocolate, by David Wolfe and Shazzie, which is supposed to be the "truth about the world's greatest food". I've paged through it and it looks fascinating! Can't wait to get a minute to check this one out!
Half Price Books knows a mark when they see one. Before my vacation, I received a postcard from them with a series of discount coupons that covered about one week: 40% off on Monday and Tuesday; 30% off on Wednesday and Thursday; 20% off on Saturday, and 50% off on Sunday..... Do they have a plan, or what. I was able to get out there on Tuesday, and came home with way too many books, and a CD or two; and I waited until Sunday, and took advantage of the big coupon. I came away with a couple of interesting cookbooks (obviously, I'm not completely into the RAW food thing yet), and another book on CD.
THAT one was by Jimmy Buffett, one of his later writings, called A Salty Piece of Land. I've been listening to that on in the car, and it is well worth the time invested. I am a little disappointed that Jimmy didn't read his own book, but with this being my first foray into Jimmy Buffett's writings OTHER than poetry and music, I am pleasantly surprised. The man is a storyteller, and apparently, writing fiction is just a natural offshoot of the rest of his talents. I also happen to have the hardcover copy of this book, and I'm so taken by this book that I am following along in the book when I'm getting ready to go to bed. It's THAT good!
Other books I picked up are about nutrition and the somewhat NEW subject of rebuilding your body. I am scheduled for a bone scan tomorrow, and even with the evidence of my blood test and other clinicals indicating that I am free of cancer still, I am dealing with chronic back pain, bad enough that I cannot sleep comfortably in a bed, a night in a recliner is much more comfortable. Healing nutrition for arthritic conditions, and, once again, rebuilding debilitated tissue.
I heard the newest Eagles music on the Country station I love. When the news broke that the CD was ready in stores, I checked it out. Call me petty, but although the price was right: $11.88, the double CD is presented in a cardboard folder, not your plastic jewel case. I nearly left it on the shelf. I know, it sounds petty, but because of the way I haul these things around and they get would be better off in a sturdy hard case... Oh well. The music is definitely Eagles, and some of it sounds a little "familiar", but isn't that the nature of your favorite artist? The writing is good, the music is good. Some of the pieces will definitely get me into trouble in the nearby burg next summer -- they ticket vehicles driving through town who have the music a little too loud.
Other music? More Jimmy Buffett -- what else?
My only experience with IKEA was through borrowed catalogs that I'd mooched off of friends who were in the process of furnishing apartments or "first" residences away from Mom and Dad. It looked cool, but I thought some of the prices were out of reach and I could always furnish through Goodwill, or the local rubbish day.
Immediately upon my arrival, my eyes were opened, WIDE! Not only are high prices NOT the norm here, but the sparse, European styling is not the only choice. I found no less than a half dozen ideas for appointing a bedroom, didn't even bother to walk slowely through the kitchen department.... I made a few purchases in the area designated for office appointments, and nearly bought too much in the children's department. My cats have new bowls, and a new reading lamp has yet to be assembled for my living room/work area.
I am in the process of trying to get my house packed and ready for sale, and at this point, I don't have a definite place to plan on decorating. The reality is that I don't know WHEN I will be moving -- depends on how long the house is for sale... at that point, I can make my plans. In the meantime, I am perusing my new IKEA catalog and planning my new bedroom, living room, dining room, work room, etc, etc, etc....
Up to six years ago, I was "tied down" by a husband or significant other, and THEY did not want to travel. Talk about insecurities.... My one and only vacation with my first husband was a four-day car trip to FLORIDA. We left about noon, and drove throughtout the remainder of the day and through the night all the way to Pensecola. My biggest disappointment was the lack of palm trees! I thought all of Florida had palm trees. No. I was able to spend a half hour in the ocean, and we found his cousin's house, shared supper, and were off again. Yay. There was no other stopping or sightseeing, we were in constant motion, and I am not sure what he was trying to accomplish. I was less than thrilled.
Exciting trips I've enjoyed since then have been long weekends up north, camping on a penninsula on Lake Michigan; camping on the shore of Lake Superior; visiting my daughter at her prestigious college campus in New England; a couple days on my own in Vermont and Maine (not enough time! not enough time!); a wonderful nine days with my daughter, driving from one adventure to another in the State of Arizona; exploring the tropical wonders of Floridas Keys, both alone and with my best friend~~in a tent and exploring the crazy motels from days gone by; my first taste of Las Vegas; and most recently, the exploration on several different trips of the Washington D.C. area.
Why am I writing about this? Why should you care? The facts are: I am a single female, okay, I'm what may be considered "middle age"... disgraceful term, isn't it? The really disgraceful part of this, is that I've just learned about enjoying travel. When I was younger, and had a child to care for, I worked hard, and sometimes earned the right to take time off from work, sometimes, even paid time off. However, I obsessed, and stressed about it so much, that I often cancelled any travel and opted for staying home and tending to business/busyness at home. I currently am entitled to three weeks' vacation per year, and it's all in my hands. The problem at this point, is there are so many places I want to go and things I want to see and do, and there is so little time.....
I root for Maryland at this time, because I've just recently returned from there -- I visited my daughter and her family. We went to the National Zoo, visited Alexandria a couple of times -- it's close by, and my daughter and I both have some favorite shops and cafes in the neighborhood and visited Mount Vernon. The remainder of the time out there was family time and getting ready for a great Halloween Party. I want to get back there and see more of the Smithsonian offerings on the Mall, visit the Monuments again -- I'd seen them once when she first moved out there, but would like to see them in nice weather and at a more leisure pace than the first time.
I want to get out to the shore, see the Chesapeake Bay, and see more places like Annapolis, etc. There is a sheep farm we were going to visit this last time, but the rain was awful and not exactly conducive to roaming through barnyards.
I have friends who are planning trips to Hawaii, Mexico, France, Italy, Africa, Greenland, Belize, and so on..... But there is so much to do in this country!!! I fell in love with Arizona, and am still planning to go back to the Grand Canyon for a backpack hike down the Bright Angel trail. I don't know WHEN I'm going to do it, but I am going to do it. How does one fit all this in, with only three weeks' vacation? I'd apply for a job as an over-the-road truck driver, except, I don't want to be away from home for that much time.... Maybe I should get rid of the house and the job, buy a motorhome, and take this act on the road.... I'll get back to you.
Back to Two and A Half Men.... The writers are brilliant, the talents mesh beautifully, and it is just plain FUNNY!!!! Tonight, I came straight home from work, found a can of something to heat up, and sat down to see what I was going to accomplish tonight, a whole night at home, for a change. Browsing the channels, I found TAAHM reruns on a Chicago station, filling space opposite local news. I was there. Turned out to be an episode I hadn't yet seen~~~~ Charlie was pretending to be gay to get in the good graces of a contact that gave him lots of jingle work (he supposedly writes ad copy and jingles for commercials). He was invited to bring his "significant other" to a cocktail party, and proceeded to convince his brother Allen to be his "date". Needless to say, Jon Crier filled the bill quite well, and even elicited a pass from the host in the form of a weekend invitation to Big Sur.
At the same time, the young Jake had heard that one out of three men suffer from erectile dysfunction, and since he didn't have a problem, he figured it was his father or his uncle. Of course, the mother stumbles into all this and is enjoying the discomfort of her over-confident, super-cocky (yes, enjoy the pun)oldest son. I decided right then and there, that this is going to be a series that I am going to own on DVD. My best friend also loves this show, but the rest of my world can't seem to understand the attraction of this mostly sarcastic, basically outright mean cast of characters. I love it! Go Charlie! Go Allen! Go Jake! Keep up the great work!!!!!
P.S. I'm hoping that a good number of these episodes are already written and the Writer's strike will be short-lived.