Saturday, August 19, 2017

If We Were Having Coffee... (Vol. 13 - Mama Always Told Me Not to Look Into the Eyes of the Sun...)


If we were having coffee on this sunny, Saturday afternoon, we'd be confined to sitting inside and I'd apologize, for it really is a beautiful day.  I must stay inside, though, so I can listen for the front door.  LG&E is supposed to come today and take away my old, garage refrigerator that died back in July, but as it turned out, really didn't die; it just threw a breaker we didn't know about.  Once we made that discovery, we had already purchased a new kitchen fridge, with plans to relegate the existing kitchen fridge to the garage to replace the one that died, but didn't really die.

I've just returned from my weekly walk in the park and I'm a sweaty mess.  I'd apologize again, for I know I stink to high heavens.  I had hoped to make it home in time to take a shower before R left, but I didn't.  "We've already missed one scheduled pickup about a week and a half ago," I'd say.  "Knowing my luck, as soon as I'd get in the shower, LG&E would arrive."  I'd thank you for your understanding and would be sure to sit as far away from you as I could.

As we settled in at the kitchen table or on the sofa with our drinks, you'd hear me softly singing this snippet of a song:

Mama always told me not to look into the eyes of the sun.  But, mama, that's where the fun is...

As soon as the last word would escape my lips, I'd abruptly stop, grunt a little under my breath, and quickly apologize for the third time.  I'd tell  you that probably will not be the last time you hear that lyric come out of my mouth today. "There's been a lot of excitement here about the upcoming solar eclipse.  Even though we're not going to get totality like they are in Hopkinsville, we're slated to get something like 96% totality."  Anyway, once we started talking about it at school and teachers started making preparations for the viewing, this song lyric popped in my head and I've been singing it ever since.  "Damn ear worm."

You'd look at me in surprise and ask how long I've been back to work.  "Two and a half weeks," I'd say.  "We went back August 2.  We were one of the first districts in the area to start back.  But, instead of having just one week for fall and spring break, we'll now get two.  Going back earlier will be well worth it then. October is a fabulous month to have time off."

You'd ask how my school year is going so far and I'd tell you that's it's been super busy.  I've been a speech pathologist for 17 years and the caseload of kids I have this year is probably the most complex I've ever had in my entire career.  

I have at least half a dozen students who have autism, one of which is predominately nonverbal and extremely defiant.  I have one kid who, unfortunately, only has half his teeth.  "Seriously, the kid has ten teeth; I counted," I'd say with an exhausted sigh.  "No wonder we can barely understand him."  Truth is, I'm not exactly sure how I am going to help him be more intelligible when we are working with such limited oral structures.  All I know is that everyone is looking to me for answers and I don't know what to do.  I can't make his adult teeth come in any faster.  I'd continue and tell you about the child who not only has some moderate-severe articulation issues going one, but who also stutters.  And, then there is the kid who has such severe mental health issues that he's afraid to walk into my therapy room for some reason.

With that, I'd go silent, letting all that sink in.  "It's going to be a very interesting year, that's for sure," I'd finally say.

The backup beeping of a box truck would break the silence.  I'd look out the garage door and see a large truck backing down my  driveway.  I'd excuse myself and go outside to greet them.  A few minutes later, I'd return, looking very relieved and singing.  

Mama always told me not to look into the eyes of the sun.  But, mama, that's where the fun is...

"See?  I told you," I'd say with a laugh.  "I hope once this eclipse is over that this song leaves me."  

Sitting back down, I'd tell you that they're loading it up now and that I'm very happy to see it go. Since August 5, the day when our new refrigerator was delivered, our old kitchen refrigerator has been sitting in my living room plugged in. "Yes, I've had three refrigerators plugged in and running for the past two weeks and one of them was in my direct line of sight in the living room," I'd say with a laugh.  It was just easier to move the old kitchen fridge into the living room and transfer the food into the new fridge once it was cold and ready.  Then, it just made sense to keep the old kitchen fridge where it was, because it was at least out of the way, until the garage fridge was taken off and we could then move the old kitchen fridge into the garage.  "Did you get all that?"  I'd ask and then we'd both laugh.

As we continued our visit, I'd share about how I passed a milestone earlier this month by having committed to a healthier lifestyle for one full year.  I'd also tell you about how I'm refocusing my efforts to lose more weight after having plateaued at 38 pounds.  I'd then share about the newest walking challenge at work.  I was on the fence as to whether I wanted to participate in it or not, but I decided at the last minute to go ahead.  "I'm just not allowing the competitive beast that reared its ugly head back in April during the spring challenge to rise up again."  You'd look at me skeptically.  "I know what you're thinking, but I'm completely serious."  Honestly, I have no idea of what place my school's team is in or what place I may be in.  I only signed up for the points that I get for joining a team and a for participating in a challenge.  My walking buddy, on the other hand, is a woman on a mission.  From what she said the other day at lunch, she's in it to win it, or at least to finish in the top three.  "I wish her all the best and I'll cheer her on every step of the way.  I'm just not walking with her every step of the way this time around."  

I'd glance at the clock, noting the time.  You'd look as well, saying how you must get going.  "I really must shower," I'd say, "for I can't stand myself any longer." I'd thank you for coming by, for it was lovely to hang with you this afternoon, and I'd walk you out.  As we walked out to your car, you'd hear me singing.

Mama always told me not to look into the eyes of the sun.  But, mama, that's where the fun is...

"Damn ear worm..."


Thank you for joining me for me latest installment of IWWHC.  Have a wonderful Saturday and weekend.


Linking up with Diana:
#weekendcoffeeshare



Friday, August 18, 2017

Tuesday Topics (Not on Tuesday) - Five Things I Love About My State



Kentucky's proximity to West Virginia (my home state).  It broke my heart when I left West Virginia after finishing college, but I it was something I simply had to do.  Like so many of my friends, I left for economic opportunities.  I've been gone for almost 18 years now and there's not a week that goes by in which I don't miss my family and the mountains.  I'm very thankful that I'm able to drive to my hometown in about 5.5 hours from where I live in Kentucky.

Kentucky's four distinct seasons




How passionate Kentuckians are about the Kentucky Derby, bourbon, and basketball.  I'll admit, this passion has driven me crazy on numerous occasions and my husband's passion for Kentucky basketball, in particular, has caused us some marital strife during our 14 years, but I do admire it.  

The geographic diversity.  To the east are the Appalachian mountains.  To the west is the mighty Mississippi.  In the middle, is the lush, green rolling Bluegrass, where I live.  I love the fact that I can get in my car and go 2-3 hours in any direction and be in a a different geographical region.

The people.  As I mentioned before, it really broke my heart when I left my beloved home state nearly 18 years ago.  Something that made the transition much easier were the people and culture of Kentucky, which are very similar to that of West Virginia.  Honestly, if the people hadn't been as great as they were, especially during my first couple of years here, I don't know if I would've stayed.  

What is something you love about your state?  Please feel free to share.  I love audience participation!  Have a great Friday and an even better weekend!



Linking up with Jenn @ Quirky Pickings 



Friday, August 11, 2017

Tuesday Topics (Not on Tuesday) - Six Best Country Songs


First, I feel as if I must disclose something.  


I'm not a fan of country music.  

I've listened to it randomly during times in my life, but never for long periods. I've always had some friends who are country music fans and they've exposed me to various country songs over the years.  Anyway, it's safe to say that my experience with country music is very, very limited and because of that, coming up with this list was almost as hard as coming up with my destination list. 

If you are a regular reader, you know that I like categories.  After several false starts, I decided a familiar approach was needed. So, instead of trying to list the six best country songs ever or the six best country songs that I can remember or the six best country songs that I own, I came up with six categories and filled them accordingly.


Best Country Song 
(To Elicit a Deafening Feminist Roar)
"Goodbye Earl" by Dixie Chicks



In the summer of 1999, I attended Lilith Fair, the traveling music festival that featured female acts.  The Dixie Chicks, despite being relatively new at the time, but were a main stage act. "Goodbye Earl" hadn't been released as a single yet, so when they played it, it was the first time most of us in the crowd had heard it.  When Natalie Maines sang about Wanda and the domestic violence that she experienced, the crowd got eerily silent.  But, that didn't last long. Once she started the chorus and announced that "Earl had to die," the predominately female crowd roared to life with cheers and whistles and yells of "Hell yeah!"  If I had been a man in that crowd, I might have been a little nervous at that point.


Best Country Song 
(From My Teenage Years)
"The Dance" by Garth Brooks



This song was chosen as one of the two that my graduating class either walked in to or walked out of (the gym) for our senior awards ceremony.  That's when I first heard it, back in 1992.  Although the song is specifically referencing a failed relationship, it can also be applied to life.  I often think about the things I've tried in life that didn't work out and how I'm still glad for all the experiences, even if things didn't turn out in the end like I planned. 


Best Country Song 
(That Makes Me Misty Eyed)
"Take Me Home, Country Roads" by John Denver 



Being a proud, native West Virginian, how could I not list my home state's unofficial state song in a "Best Of" country music list?  Honestly, this song has made misty-eyed and even made me flat out bawl one more than one occasion. It makes me think of home and all the things that I love about the mountain state, which are things that I miss dearly.



Best Country Song 
(Associated with a Childhood Memory)
"I Wouldn't Have Missed It for the World" by Ronnie Milsap



When I was seven and eight years old, I took gymnastics.  The lessons were given in a neighboring town and my parents, who were already divorced, took turns driving the 70 miles roundtrip to the gym and back every week.  My mom has never been one to listen to the radio while in the car; my dad, on the other hand, always did.  For some reason, this is the only song I remember from those car rides with my dad and for the past 35 years, whenever I've heard it, it has triggered that memory.


Best Country Song 
(That Also Makes a Great Mantra)
"Let it Go" by Zac Brown Band



Several years ago, a major change happened at my workplace that turned the life of everyone who worked there upside down.  This song, or specifically the last two lines of the chorus, became my mantra for that year.


"You keep your heart above your head and your eyes wide open
So this world can't find a way to leave you cold
And know you're not the only ship out on the ocean
Save your strength for things that you can change
Forgive the ones you can't
You gotta let it go"


Best Country Song 
(Of 2017)
"God, Your Mama, and Me" by Florida Georgia Line featuring the Backstreet Boys



As soon as I heard this song, about a month or two ago, I was incredibly touched by the simplicity and heartfelt sweetness of its message.  I think it is by far one of the prettiest songs I've heard in a long time.  Any woman who is the recipient of a song like this, is an incredibly lucky lady.


So, there  you have it - my six.  My apologies for no Waylon, Patsy, Merle, George, Willie, or Dolly.  For the record, though, the song "Forever Country," a mashup of "On the Road Again" by Willie Nelson, "I'll Always Love You" by Dolly Parton, and "Take Me Home, Country Roads", was my seventh song.  And because I like it so well and this is my blog,  after all, I've decided to include it anyway.  Here it is for your listening enjoyment.




What's a country song or two or three that would make your six best country song list?

As always, thanks for stopping by!  Have a great weekend!


Linking up with Jenn @ Quirky Pickings:



Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Recently Read - Vol. 21 (July '17)


It's Show Us Your Books Day with Steph and Jenn and I'm happy to report that I have more than 2-3 books to discuss!

Something got in to me last month, because I was devouring books left and right.  Now, for some of you, eight books in a month is par for the course, and once upon a time it was for me, too.  But, for about a year now, I've been averaging two-three a month, so eight is a big deal for me.  I don't dare say that the drought is over, but for last month at least, it was lifted.

Without further ado, here are my July reads:


Holes by Louis Sachar
Read July 1 | Format:  Audiobook | My rating 4/5

Think:  Story of coming full circle and redemption.

A cute book.  If you've seen the movie, then you have pretty much read the book.  They are very, very similar.





Read July 2 | Format: Audiobook | My rating 4.5/5

Think:  Coming of age, fish out of water story.

This book is often challenged for its use of foul language that is common with teenagers and for its accurate portrayal of bullying and racism and lustful thoughts of teenage boys.  Those are all things that I LOVED about the book.  Those elements, in my opinion, made the book so rich and real.  It was laugh out loud funny at times and so very sad during others.  Reading it was a very rewarding and enjoying experience for me.
Read July 3-5 | Format: Audiobook | My rating: 5/5

Think: A partial biography of a man and his family as told by his four legged family member.

I have often wondered how much of my life, my troubles, my heartaches,  and my joys that my own dog has been a witness to.  If my dog could talk, what would her observations of my life and life in general be?  That's what this book is - Enzo's observations and insights into the life of his beloved human, Denny.  This book was delightful, sad, funny, and heartbreaking all rolled up into one.



Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
Read July 5-9 | Format: Hardback | My rating: 3.5/5

Think:  A multi-character story of a mysterious "drowning pool" that has claimed the lives of many women.

I didn't like this book as well as I liked The Girl on the Train, but, they are different books, now aren't they?  My biggest complaint was the sheer number of characters; there were just so many of them that I found it hard to keep up with them, keep up with how they were interconnected, and how they related to the plot.  This really overshadowed the plot in my opinion.


Razor Girl by Carl Hiaasen
Read July 6-16 | Format: Audiobook | My rating: 4.5/5

Think:  Crazy domino effect story set in the Florida Keys with some of the craziest characters and situations!

I'm a fan of Hiaasen's noir humor, but I know that he and his writing are not for everyone.  In my experience, you either love him or you  hate him.  I've read so many of them over the years and given the fact that they all take place in south Florida, sometimes I have a hard time telling them apart after the fact.  I don't think that will be a problem with this one because Razor Girl offered up such a hilarious domino effect plot with such a cast of crazy, memorable characters, that I trust I will remember this one.


Bricking It by Nick Spalding
Read July 18-24 | Format: Audiobook | My rating: 4/5

Think:  A story about an inherited house, all the ups and downs that can happen during the renovation, and how the process can change lives.

This is by the same author who wrote Fat Chance, a book that I read back in the winter and loved.  It is the story of two siblings who inherit a house, decide to renovate it, have the renovations documented on a reality TV show, and all the unexpected secrets that old houses eventually spill.  It was hilarious at times and very entertaining.

  
The Pallbearers by Stephen J. Cannell
Read July 25-28 | Format: Audiobook | My rating: 3.5/5

Think:  Sometimes a case is more than just business; it's personal.

This is the ninth book in the police detective Shane Scully series.  The plot was intriguing, the writing was solid, and I enjoyed the diverse characters.  It isn't my favorite of the series, but it was still an enjoyable read.





Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley | Read July 29 - Aug 5 | My rating: 4.5/5

Think:  Poignant biography of a dog as told by his beloved owner.

Whereas The Art of Racing in the Rain is a partial story of man's life as told by his beloved dog, Lily and the Octopus is the story of Lily, an aging  dachshund, as told by her beloved and devout owner, Ted.  This is one of the most funny, poignant, touching, endearing, sweet, and utterly heart wrenching books I've reading a long time.  It made me cry and made me cry on more than one occasion, but it also made me laugh.  In the end, all the "eye rain" was worth it.


What have you read lately?  Any books you'd like to recommend?

As always, thanks for stopping by!


Linking up with:


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Tuesday Topics (Not on Tuesday) - Seven Places I'd Like to Visit


When I first saw this topic, I thought, "Man, this will be a cinch..." because if there's a topic I can converse about at great length, it's places I'd like to visit.

The Oregon coastline; Santorini, Greece; Arches National Park; Cinque Terre, Italy; Churchill, Canada; Bora Bora; the Inner Passage in Alaska; Havanna, Cuba; Glacier National Park; Iguazu Falls, Argentina; the Great Wall of China; Machu Picchu...  

Seriously, the list could go on and on.  Therein lies the problem.  When I started my list and tried to narrow it down to only seven, that's when I realized that I had spoken too soon.  Trying to narrow it down to only seven became quite a task. I mean, seriously, only seven?  

So, to make the task easier, I came up with seven categories and then filled each category with a destination.  Trust me, this is just a small sampling of the places I like to visit.


A Destination Within a Half Day's Drive 
(6 hours or less from where I live)  

Memphis, TN


I'm actually quite surprised that I haven't been to Memphis yet, due to its close proximity.  I'd like visit Beale Street, eat some BBQ, and listen to some blues.



A Destination Within One Day's Drive
(10-12 hours from where I live)  

St. Augustine, FL


A friend of mine once said that St. Augustine was his favorite city in the United States.  After hearing that, I decided to do a little research.  I think I would enjoy seeing all the Spanish colonial architecture in the oldest city in the United States.  It just seems like a cool place to spend a long weekend.


A Destination That's a Plane Ride Away (or two or three) in the United States

Hawaii


I've heard that Hawaii is overrated, but I don't care.  I still long to see it in person.  I want to see black sand beaches, volcanoes, beautiful sunsets, surfers hanging ten on the North Shore, Pearl Harbor, Waimea Canyon, Diamond Head...



A Destination on a Continent that I've Never Visited

The Serengeti in Africa



This is a destination that I cannot imagine, for I know my imagination will not do it justice.  I would love to see this wild landscape and all the exotic creatures who live there before they are gone.



A Destination that I've Already Visited 
(But Would Like to Visit Again)

Australia


I visited Australia ten years ago.  It was a fabulous experience that I remember fondly.  I visited Sydney, snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef, held a koala, fed a kangaroo, and learned to throw a boomerang.  There's one place that I desperately wanted to see while I was there, but, unfortunately, did not - Uluru. I'd like to go back to Australia, this time without thirty-some teenagers in tow, and I will make certain that a visit to Uluru happens.



A Realistic Bucket List Destination

Iceland


My main reason for wanting to visit Iceland is to see the Aurora Borealis.  I'd also like to see the Blue Lagoon, see some puffins, and ride an Icelandic horse. Iceland has actually been on my radar for awhile; I even blogged about it two years ago.


A "Skies the Limit" Bucket List Destination

An "Around the World Cruise"


Okay, yes, I know I'm cheating a bit here, given that most around the world cruises offer ports of call in at least 40 different locations.  However, if money were not object, I seriously think this is something I would do.  (FYI - an 111 day around the world cruise on Princess Cruise Line starts around $20,000 per person for an interior cabin and that doesn't include taxes, fees, and such.)


What are some destinations that you'd like to visit?

Hope this finds you having a good beginning to the work week.  I hope Monday treats you kindly.  


Linking up with Jenn @ Quirky Pickings:





Thursday, August 3, 2017

Currently... (Vol. 19)


Adjusting...  to waking up at oh-dark-thirty, putting on a bra before noon, commuting 90 miles roundtrip, and working 8 hours a day after a lovely two month hiatus from being Mrs. B, speech pathologist.

Missing...  my quiet mornings at home and my weekday morning walks in the park (it was like having the park all to myself).

Learning...  a lot of new faculty members' names.  I might be lucky to know them all (first names and last names) by Christmas.

Confessing...  that I didn't get nearly as much stuff accomplished around the house this summer as I'd planned.  Yes, I indulged in a lot of dolce far niente.

Awaiting...  the arrival of our new refrigerator.  Our garage refrigerator kicked the bucket last month.  We bought a new one for the kitchen and will demote that one to the garage once the new one arrives.  

Admitting...  that having my spare refrigerator die and only having one working fridge is truly a "First World Problem."

Remembering...  this scene from Back to the Future...  When I was a kid, which wasn't that long ago, it was hard to imagine a time before having multiple TVs in the house.  Refrigerators, on the other hand...  I knew no one who had two refrigerators until I was in high school.  My, how times have changed...

Listening...  to the audiobook Lily and the Octopus and... 

Crying...  a little bit every. single. time. I listen to it.  Lord, have mercy!  (To be fair, I've also done my fair share of laughing.  The vocal artist does a fabulous job and makes Lily's enthusiasm when she "speaks" hilarious!)

Hoping...  to finish round one of Erin's Book Challenge by mid-month.  So far, I've completed 8/10 categories.  I haven't decided if I'm going to participate in round two yet or not...

Singing...  a jacked up version of "Despacito" in my head.  I don't know Spanish, so I'm pretty sure what I'm singing is 95% incorrect.

Laughing...  at this parody of "Despacito," which is what triggered me getting the original song stuck in my brain in the first place.



Shocking...  my coworkers by wearing an item of clothing that looks like a skirt! Best thing is, it's not!


Longing...  for sunlight.  One of the hardest things about going back to work is spending all day inside my windowless room.

Shopping...  for new walking shoes.  By my calculations, my current pair has over 400 miles on them.

Returning...  summer clothing that I bought on sale but did not like or that was "ill-fitting."  With the exception of my extensive t-shirt collection, I have pretty much replaced my entire wardrobe.

Considering...  Botox injections to calm down my overactive forehead muscles that are causing a deep crevice to form between my eyebrows.  All my time outside in the bright sunlight this summer (and inadvertently squinting in various degrees of severity) has not helped. This aging thing...  grrrr



Wondering...  if any of you out there in the blogisphere has received Botox injections and what your experiences were.  If you've had it done, do you recommend it?

Looking forward...  to white water rafting in about a month!  

Celebrating...  one year, 38 lbs lost, no longer having to take high blood pressure medication, and getting my life back.


Left - August 2016, Right - July 2017


July in a Snapshot
1st Row:  flowers at the Louisville Zoo during one of my walks, a curious meerkat (my favorite critters to visit while walking at the zoo), and my alpaca burger (anniversary dinner at Game) - and yes, that's a fried egg on it! 

2nd Row:  a sinfully, ooey-gooey, but utterly delicious grilled cheese I made one day for lunch, one of the many peaches on my parents' peach trees, and my aunt and me at the Glen Rogers Miners Memorial in Glen Rogers, WV (scavenger hunt item).  

3rd Row:  kayaking on Lake Stephens (WV), me sporting my new work polo that is one size smaller than last year's shirt, and me during my last weekday morning walk in the park before going back to work.

So, what have you been up to lately?  As always, thanks for dropping by!


Linking up with:





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