Sunday, December 07, 2008

Prop 8

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Saturday, December 06, 2008

New Neighborhood Tradition

Yesterday we got together with a few of our neighbors and went to the beach to toast the sunset. It's so easy to forget to slow down and enjoy the everyday things around you. We're going to try to get as many of the neighbors to join in once a month. It was great fun. We took some things to snack on - we had two kinds of shrimp, grapes, cheeses, bread, and a little bit of wine. We all took chairs and blankets, but we just stood around visiting and enjoying the scenery. It was a great way to unwind after such a long week.

Tonight we are off to one of our other neighbor's annual Christmas party. We'll be sure to spread the word about next month's Sunset Toast.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Tough day...

Today was not a good day. We had to lay off over 1oo people at work. I had to lose one of my employees in this. While it seems like this is such a small number in the face of the thousands that other companies are laying off, it still doesn't make it easier to know others have it harder. I've never had to have a conversation like that before. I hope I never have to again either.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hello all...

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I've fallen out of the blogosphere for a while. The world has been a crazy place - globally, nationally, locally and even personally. But I hope we're on the upswing... or will be soon.

We're heading out to Orlando to see some friends and spend the holiday. It will be a nice change of scenery. And of course good to see friends. I hadn't thought of it before this year, but I think that Thanksgiving might be my favorite holiday. One of my favorite things to do is to hang out with good friends, with good food, maybe a little wine, and just enjoy each other's company. It's a little harder now with even more friends moved out of the area. So I'm glad we're traveling. Don't get me wrong, I love the friends we have here. It just seems that everyone goes their own way this time of year, and it makes me really miss those friends I have who are far away from me.

So to all my friends out there, near and far... I love you all.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Gettin' things done

This a good day to get things done. I took the day off, so today I voted, bought a guitar tuner, went grocery shopping, bought a yoga DVD I've been thinking about, and finally took pics of our new vegetable garden.

Voting wasn't bad. Our precinct isn't too big, so I think I only waited for about 2 or 3 minutes. On the way out running my errands, hundreds of Obama signs seem to have sprouted overnight. It was kinda cool to see that display in my mostly republican neighborhood.

I found my way to a local music store and bought a guitar tuner. Someone at work told me about them. I never knew such a thing existed. I'm gonna go try it out today. While there, I saw a flyer about classes starting in January. $89 for eight weeks! Sounds like a bargain to me. I'm seriously thinking about checking that out.

I picked up the "A.M. Yoga" DVD too. It has five twenty-minute sessions. Monday night I go to a class, and it's something I look forward to all week. So I may try to do this a couple mornings a week too. Still not great at it, but I think I hit a milestone this week. A lot of the poses that I struggled with seemed to have clicked this week. Love it.

About three weeks ago, we built a small raised bed for vegetables on the south side of our house. We planted grape and cherry tomatoes, zuchini, summer squash, basil, radishes, mixed lettus greens, jalepenos, and yellow and red bell peppers. Next we're going to build a trellis and plant some beans and/or maybe snowpeas. The tomatoes are doing really well - lots of little blooms already.

We've also been talking about extending the fence on the north side of the house closer to the street. That will give us a place to put a couple rain barrels and a compost pile. We haven't had a place for a compost pile in a few years. And with all the yard debris we produce, it's just a good idea. BTW - did you hear that the recycling company in Pinellas county is going to stop accepting glass for recycling for the next year?! Bad timing - since St. Pete is JUST starting their curbside recycling program. Apparently there is a real glut in recycled glass. Yet recycled glass items are still exhorbitantly expensive. Go figure.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Inside the Big Picture...

One of the things I like the most about taking pictures is when you get to see the details you would otherwise miss. There's just something about peering into a small world to see the strange but beautiful things...

Saturday, October 04, 2008

All is well.

About three months ago, I wrote about my personal health crisis. It wasn’t pretty. But, I’m happy to say that after my follow-up appointment with my doctor this week, everything that should be normal is normal again.

It was a lot of work – diet and exercise. And 20 pounds later, I feel better, and I’m on the right track. (Not to mention the “new” wardrobe I’m finding in my closet!) I still have a way to go – another 30 to reach my goal weight. And maybe more if I can, but that would put me in a happy place for sure.

I‘ve been somewhat regular at the gym – still going to the yoga class on Mondays. And then three more gym visits for the week. Two weeks ago, I went kayaking for the first time in a year. I had a great time. I didn’t have the shoulder issue I had before. So I went out again last week. I was out for two hours when I decided I should come back in, even though I was having such a good time. I felt pretty good that day. But the next day I felt like someone had beaten me with a bat! But it was that good, hard exercised pain.

I still refuse to say I’m “dieting” because that sounds so temporary. I really have to make permanent changes. Still eating my veggies, which was never a problem. Eating a LOT more fruit to compensate for the lack of sugar intake. And switched to whole grain whenever I have a choice (the Barilla Whole Grain Pasta is actually really good). I’m still limiting carbs, but not in a torturous Atkins way. But pasta and rice has gone from a 3-4 nights a week meal, to a 3-4 times a month meal.

All that being said, shopping habits have had to change too. It’s been a challenge, and it’s been enlightening. I’m eating more organic, but not completely. But I seem to have developed this new (loose) rule that if I look at the ingredients and it has more than a dozen or so listed, it’s probably not good to eat. Especially if after the first few ingredients, it starts listing a bunch of chemicals and additives that I can’t even pronounce. It (usually) get’s left on the shelf.

Today starts the new season of St. Pete Saturday Market. I’ve been looking forward to going down and finding some fresh produce. So, after our morning trip to the dog park, I think I’m going to throw myself into the crowd to do some open-air shopping.

Keep sending good thoughts my way.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I'm not a morning person. Really.

Anyone who knows me knows I'm not the "rise and shine" type. I'm more the, "sleep in while the rest of the world gets the coffee ready for me" type. On occasion, I can get up early if there's a reason to. But usually, I'd opt not to.

Lately, I've been waking up early in the morning. Well, early for me anyway. During the week, I rarely get to be annoyed by my alarm clock anymore. I'm usually up before it begins its morning whimper of NPR chatter on ultra-low volume (did I mention I'm a really light sleeper?).

Pre-dawn hours are almost mystical to me – a strange kind of foreign magic. Perhaps it's because I don't usually see them. Years ago, when I thought I was a jogger, I got up early and went out for a jog at the crack of dawn. I saw lots of people that I didn't know, but they all acted as though we were casual friends. The UPS driver honked and waved. Other walkers and joggers said things like "good morning." Drivers on their way to work or where ever waved or nodded a slight hello. It was freakin' weird. Kinda made me wonder, are there really two types of people in the world? Morning People and Non-Morning People? Why do these MP's seem so friendly? Have I slipped into Stepford? Are they secretly running the world? Do they know something the rest of us don't? Should I be scared? Or should I just go back to bed and let myself believe it was all a dream?

For some ungodly reason, I woke up at 5:30 this morning. It's a Sunday. I think that by law, you're supposed to sleep in until 10am on Sundays. But I'm up. And the really strange thing about being up early is this compulsion to be somewhere or do something that I don't normally have time to do. Maybe it's to see if the morning people are still out there.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Today we went kayaking. We haven’t been in over a year. I’ve had problems with my shoulder. Since going back to the gym regularly, and practicing my interpretation of yoga, it seems to be better. So it was time to try it again.

We had some friends meet up at our house this morning to join us, so there were 5 of us all together. We loaded up and went down the street towards Ft. De Soto. We put in and headed out. It’s been a long time. The weather was perfect. It was warm and sunny, but not late enough to have that furnace-type Florida heat yet. We paddled out to Shell Key, so it was a short trip.

We hung out at Shell Key for about an hour. Again, it wasn’t too late in the day yet, so there wasn’t much boat traffic, which was really nice. We re-discovered why it’s called Shell Key. Actually, the first thing we saw was that the beach was littered with sea urchins. I’ve never seen so many before. And they were everywhere in the shallows. I walked a short way on the beach collecting lettered olive shells. Only the biggest made the cut. Within just a few minutes I had to turn back because my hands were full.

We paddled back along West Shore in Tierra Verde – some of the biggest houses I’ve ever seen. I think we were gone for about 4 hours all together. I had a really great time. I missed it a lot. It was so peaceful. Almost therapeutic. I see myself doing a lot more of that in the near future.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Thank you!


Late on Friday, I decided to join a friend on

ASAP's AIDS Walk St. Petersburg. The walk was the next morning, so it didn't leave a lot of time for planning and fund-raising. I'll confess that we talked about it earlier in the week, but I had another commitment that I thought was the same day, but wasn't. So we sat down and registered online.

We decided to become a team of two. We brainstormed some team names - determined to come up with something fun. We came up with "

Since it was last minute, we didn't really expect to raise any money aside from the donations we would make ourselves, but we each sent an email to small groups of friends. Well, this morning I was AMAZED to see that we had raised $130! I don't know who of you donated online, but I must say THANK YOU! I know that it doesn't sound like much money, but we honestly weren't expecting to raise anything because we were so late.

I haven't volunteered or participated in this event for about three years. I was really happy to see that it was a much larger crowd. Although - I've apparently become a hermit, because I only saw one person there that I knew.

There were lots of the usual type crowd there. Also a lot of families. There weren't as many characters there as I expected. There was a small group of Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence among the crowd.

Next year, we decided that we will plan a little better and do some work to make it fun and involve more people. There will be a repeat appearance of team Crosswalkers, and we decided we will need to dress the part (we're thinking big sun hats and sunglasses). A little Dame Edna inspiration. So, if you're looking for some fun next year and like to walk, keep us on your calendar for September 2009!

Aids Walk St. Pete

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Yoga Update...

Back in April, I mentioned that I finally got the nerve to try the yoga class at the gym. Since then, I've switched gyms, and tried a couple others. I still enjoy it, although I still feel really awkward. My description of trying to bend a potato in half still fits. But It's getting a little better.

The instructors at my new gym aren't as good, I don't think. The instructor of the first class I tried wasn't very personable. I got the sense that she drew the short straw. The class I go to now is a little better. She said she also teaches at another yoga studio and is also a massage therapist. She seems a little more into it, and is good about walking around the room and giving feedback and helping out.

There's another class I haven't tried that they call "Yoga-Ball" a combination of yoga and pilates (I've also heard it referred to as "yogalates"). But I have horrible visions of me falling off the ball and onto a neighbor. I'll continue to go to this one, because I do enjoy it. And honestly, it's a good change of pace from the circuit training and the cardio stuff. As I get better, maybe eventually I'll seek out another class elsewhere.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Summer Photos

A few things in the yard right now...

What's in a name?

One of the interesting things I have found living and visiting the East coast is how connected to family history people are. I find it fascinating to hear people talk about where their grandparents or great grandparents came from. We didn't really have this on the West coast. My theory is that it took longer for the West to be settled, so there is a generation or two that is separated from their families who may have stayed on the East side of the continent, or remained in their "homelands."

A while back, I saw an ad for while watching something on the history channel. I decided to take advantage of their three-day trial just to see what it was like. I sat down at my computer, and much to my amazement, within about 20 minutes I was able to trace my grandmother's side of the family back about 500 years to Notinghamshire, England (Mullins, to Flint, to Flynte). I didn't get far on my maternal grandfather's side. But I was curious about the name. I thought I knew that Mullins was derived from the French. I didn't realize that there is also an Irish derivative. My mom's cousin sent me some family history on disk a while back. But it wasn't very well organized. Some word documents and powerpoint shows. I keep saying that I should go through and sort them out some day. I wasn't so lucky on my father's side either. I got to my great grandfather and hit a roadblock. I'm not sure if anyone has done any studies there.

I don't have any delusions of finding famous ancestors or claim to fame of any sort. It's all just a curiosity. Who knows. Maybe I'll decide to subscribe to someday. I have lots of photos I could scan and share. There might be someone else out there who would be excited to see them.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Read and Re-read...

For those of you who know me, you know I like to read. I always have. Growing up I was the odd kid who spent all his extra time in the local library. The public library was about two blocks from school. Often, I would get out of school, and walk to the library until my mom would call looking for me and the librarian would come tell me it was time to go home for dinner. I think I was the only kid in the world who would get into trouble for reading. One day my mom got mad and told me to get my nose out of that book and go outside and play. I replied by saying something to the effect of, most parents would be happy that their kid was reading. Not a popular response.

Now it's tough just finding the time to read. It's very cliche to say, "so many books, so little time." But it's so true. I have one bookcase that hold's recently read books and books I want to keep. Most are passed on to friends and co-workers. Then there's the unread bookcase. It's pretty full right now, and so I have to avoid going to bookstores - which is one of my favorite things to do.

Part of my problem when it comes to books is that I have serious closure issues. If I start a book, I MUST finish reading it. Even if it sucks or I find it really boring. I have books that I started reading years ago that still haunt me, begging to be finished.

Recently, I picked up a book when I was in Portland shopping at Powell's (aka the greatest bookstore in the world). I started reading it, and it seemed familiar. I thought maybe I read something else by the author that had recurring characters. But now that I'm 50 pages into it and committed to finishing it, I realize, I have read this book before. Dammit. Of course, I don't remember how it ended, so I'm stuck. I have to read it all the way through again to completion. Fortunately, it's been a good story. But not so good that I remembered buying it before.

So I guess I have to revamp that saying. So many books, so little time to read them a second time around.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


The wind done gone.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Here we blow again...

Look out for Fay. She's headin' this way.

Again, the news is going to scare us to death by telling us that have a hurricane coming. Not to ignore it, but they tend to get everyone worked up into a lather long before there's a real threat. I know it's already caused damage for those in her way, but I'm not going to panic until there's a reason to.

Until then, we'll watch and wait.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The strangest dreams...

I had the strangest dream the other night. For those of you who know me, you probably know that my dreams are in vivid color and very detailed.

We were going to have dinner with Jack and Nancy, our neighbors until just couple years ago. The four of us got in their car and we start driving to this restaurant. Within a few minutes we had to turn around and go back to the house because Jack forgot something. So while we wait in the car, he finally comes out and tells us he’s not going to go with us. So the three of us start out again. Nancy is driving, and doesn’t say too much about where we’re going. We enter downtown, which looks a lot like Miami from all the tall buildings. We finally pull in and start walking to not a restaurant, but towards a really tall office building. Then Nancy tells me that it’s in this building “up a ways.” I start getting nervous, because all I see is a glass elevator on the outside of this 100 story building. As we’re waiting at the elevator, Bill has to run back to the car for something. Then Nancy tells me the restaurant is on the top floor, and it’s really nice because it’s open air, and has a beautiful view. Now I’m really kind of nervous, because I don’t like heights. So I tell her I’ll just have to face the door in the elevator. Bill comes walking back quickly from the car, but he doesn’t make it to the elevator, so he shouts that he’ll just meet us there.

Then the three of us are in the restaurant, which is really a rooftop garden. It looks very park-like. The seating area is open, but it’s closed on three sides with a roof – so I can at least pretend we’re not a million miles high. The server comes to take our order, and Nancy says that Jesus is joining us, but he’s already late, so we’ll go ahead and order. Somehow, this doesn’t sound strange in the dream at all, at it seems very normal.

We’re just about to finish our salads, when Nancy looks up and says, “Here he is.” I look up to see this man kind of half jogging towards us. He’s not the Jesus we see in pictures. He’s very tanned, has dark brown hair, kind of long, but above the shoulders. He stops at the table and apologizes for being late – work kept him longer than he expected. Oh yeah – he’s wearing a UPS uniform. That’s right. Shorts, shirt, tennis shoes… the whole “what can brown do for you?” get up. I’m really confused by this. As introductions are happening and he’s shaking hands with Bill and me, I’m thinking to myself, ‘do they know at UPS that Jesus is working there? Maybe he’s using another name and they don’t know who he really is.’ While thinking this, I figure that his name tag will answer that question. So I’m trying to casually read his name tag. But even when I get a good look at it, I the letters are all garbled, so I can’t read it. So he sits down, the server comes back and takes his order. Then I wake up. What the hell?! I really wish that I would have slept a little longer. I wonder where that story would have gone...

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Hell Phone Dilema

You just can't win. Remember when cell phones were fun? They were cool. You carried around this thing that was the size of a brick in your bag all day. You waited until you were on your way home from work to call someone because your night-time unlimited minutes started at 6pm. Then you could call anyone, anywhere. It was fantastic!
How things have changed. Now it's such an integrated part of life that it's just a given. And they have (thankfully) gotten smaller with more bells and whistles than ever - actually, whistle is just about the only thing you can't do with it.

I've been with just about all of them - AT&T, Cingular, Sprint... and honestly, none of them have been that great. Cingular had some serious deadspots. Like in the middle of downtown, mid county, my office, and home. Sprint has been pretty good - mostly. I can't seem to make a call from my house - unless I wear the earpiece and leave the phone in the window sill. It was a bumpy start with Sprint. There were a LOT of calls to their billing office, who constantly screwed things up. Two years later and I still dont' think I'm paying the right price, but it's not worth the hassle so I pay the few extra dollars and wait impatiently for the end of the contract. Well, it's finally here. This month. August. I'll be freed of their shackles. And go to... hmm... you'd think there's nowhere to go but up.

I started poking around online to see what I could learn. Mostly I learned that there are no good service providers. Just a bunch who you get to pick from who argue they are the BEST, or maybe not as bad as their competitor at most. I've heard horror stories about Verizon and their billing and (lack of) customer service that would set your blood to boil. They're off the list. And locally, I read that Altell and TMobile are neck and neck as far as service. I've pretty much settled on Altell. But then.... I'm reading more about them, and I see the word "merger." Well crap. Guess who just bought Altell? Verizon! Oh yippee. Shit. So now the company with the worst customer service just bought the company with the best working service. So you can see my dilema. Frankly, they all suck, but how do you get comfortable with something you know you will be unhappy with?

I know (or have read) that some of them will offer a "trial" period. Although, I've yet to find out exactly who has this. I just want to be able to get reception in my house. It's gonna be really ugly if I get a new service and new phone to find out that I can't make a call from home. I'm starting a little research on the iPhone. Not because I need to be one of the cool kids. Honestly, I don't use most of the features I have now. I want to take a call, make a call, and use voicemail. Beyond that, picture mail would be nice once in a while, and I like the alarm feature for those times I'm traveling. But that's pretty much it. Not sure I need email, internet, and a thousand other "apps" to take with me everywhere. I'll admit I'm a geek, but not a Geek. But I may be willing to spend the extra money for basic service that works.

Just the basics is all I really want. A phone that works. Are you listening to me, Jim from Sprint?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hola from Miami

I in Miami with Paul this week. He's attending a conference, and I'm crashing the hotel - kind of a mini vacation. I'm working online while he's away attending the conference sessions. The hotel is incredible. It's the Fairmont Turnberry Isle right on Aventura Boulevard. Certainly the nicest I’ve ever been in. The grounds are great. The room fantastic. It has this HUGE soaking tub, which is where I’ll be spending some time later (the bathroom is about as large as our bedroom). T

We walked to find the gym… I mean… the spa (it's actually the entire third floor of the spa). It’s a nice size place – the usual large assortment of treadmills and equipment. Each treadmill, Stairmaster, and elliptical machine has its own flat screen tv on it along with headphones. Then I went in to see the “locker room” and oh-my-god. It has beautiful hardwood lockers, big white fluffy bath robes and a completely stocked vanity complete with a table in the middle of the room with a bowl of iced cucumber soaked towels ready to hit your face. And all the bath accoutrements you could imagine. And a steam room! I love that! Makes going to work out worth it all! It’s pretty incredible. I took some pics when no one was around - I didn't want to get caught taking pics in the locker room, but you can get the idea. We’re probably gonna have to sacrifice the guest room when we remodel the bathroom at home. Guests will just have to sleep in the spa on the massage table. ;)

Went to South Beach yesterday evening. Doesn't feel like it's changed much since I was last there - probably 12-13 years ago. Ate at Jason’s Deli. Had a monster salad. So did Paul. Then we walked the length of Lincoln plaza. Saw lots of cool shops (didn’t buy anything). Lots of sights to see and people to watch. I could have spent the entire week just people watching. Did see one store – can’t remember the name, but had a lot of imported asian and Indian furniture. Saw a handmade wooden chair that was really cool. It was half price, but still $170 dollars. Lots of cool pottery too, but didn’t want to carry it around while shopping. Strangely, I left without buying anything.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

New Doc

Went to see a new dermatologist today. They were SO good. He checked me over, got the cold can did a few things, then commented on this wrinkle on my forehead and said, “you know if you want, a little botox would take care of that.” I think he misread the semi-shocked look on my face – he probably thought I was a little insulted. “Think about it and just let me know.” Actually I just fell in love a little bit.

Didn’t have it done, but I should have asked (I always thought it would be really $$). Besides, I’m pretty sure Aetna’s not paying for that. Maybe I can make it a mental health case… LOL!

He was so good that he was even able to remove two small skin tags on my EYE LID! Yes, he had to stick a needle in my eyelid, but he was just that good. I was so happy I nearly peed.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I don't bake.

One of my favorite geeky quotes of all time comes from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In a sisterly moment between Buffy and our favorite foreign slayer , Kendra, Buffy leans in for a hug but is stopped by Kendra who says in a very Jamaican-ish accent, "I don't hug!" Only, my version is, "I don't bake!"

It's true. I don't bake. Well, it's not so much that I "don't" bake, it's that I can't bake well. My problem is that I learned to cook from my mother. She rarely used a recipe. She always improvised. So that's what I do. The catch is that on the stove, you can do that. The oven is not so forgiving. Cooking on the stove is more of an experiment. You add things as you go along, you taste to see where it is, the
n you add something else to take it a little further. Baking requires planning ahead. You have to have everything in the beginning. There's no sampling. No testing. It's a one shot deal. Sit back and hope it works.

In my efforts to eat a little healthier, I've been concentrating on more "whole foods." I don't mean the store - although I love that place. A friend recently referred to them as "Whole Paycheck" because that's what it costs to shop there. By whole foods, I mean more whole grains, less processed foods - that "closer to the earth" idea. So that's what I'm doing - to a point.

One of my big weaknesses has always been bread. And not the foamy white crap. I want a thick, hearty, wheaty, grainy, dense slice of goodness. Lisa and Troy turned us on to this sprouted grain bread they found at Costco, of all places. We LOVED it. But of course, the only Costco near us doesn't carry it. I bought a loaf of Ezekiel bread which is good, but go back to that whole paycheck issue. So in a moment of brilliance, I remembered that we have a bread maker that we haven't used in a long time, or much (other than the traditional hurricane loaf - shout out to my girl in the big O R).

So after looking at a few recipes, doing a little shopping, I get everything out and start building. 4 2/3 cup of whole weat flour. Okay. I imagine I can use 2 cups of whole wheat, 1 cup of rye flour, 1 cup of graham flour (what they hell IS "graham flour" anyway), maybe a half a cup of oats, and a third of a cup of flax seed. Okay - that takes care of the flour part. The rest is pretty simple. Salt, water, brown sugar and yeast. Before I can stop myself, I'm rumaging
through the cupboards looking for anything else I can throw in there. I come up with walnuts. That can't be bad. Okay - half a cup of crushed up walnuts. What else... I find another package of seeds. Pine nuts. What the hell. Toss 'em in. I still can't believe that the recipe doesn't call for egg or milk. Surely that was a misprint on the recipe book. I resist my urge and decide against it. I rummage a little longer looking for anything that sounds like something I'd like in bread, but I stop there. As I pass by the machine, watching the dough through the little window, it looks REALLY dry. I don't think it's supposed to do that. Then I realize I didn't compensate water for the added oats. So I added about another half a cup. But it was so dry it couldn't mix. I opened the door again and smashed it up by hand. The end result wasn't bad. It didn't rise well, but we had an 8 pound loaf of bread. It tasted good - but it wasn't pretty.

This morning I'm making my second attempt. I've almost left the recipe alone. I've used the same flour concoction, and added a little more water, some blueberries that were almost done, and some cinnamon. It appears to be rising. So far so good.

Well, I think it came out pretty well! It rose a little better, so it's not quite as heavy. Still not pretty, but it's tastey! I'm happy with it.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I know this won't be popular...

We all know that sometimes driving can be dangerous. We all try our best to be careful and “watch out for the other guy,” as my dad always says. And we have to. We’ve all seen people doing strange or just stupid things while driving. I’ve seen people reading newspapers or books, putting on make-up, shaving, brushing their teeth, talking on the phone or texting (that last one really pisses me off). So sometimes bad things happen. Sometimes it’s because of stupid behavior, and sometimes it’s just dumb luck accidents resulting in fender-benders, injuries or in the worst cases, someone looses a life. No, this isn’t another rant about unsafe drivers or assholes on the road.

A few years ago there was a tragic accident in St. Pete. A small child (3 or 4 I think) wandered out of the home, down the road and into a busy street. The child was hit by a car and sadly killed. As you can imagine, this was sensational news, and we were all horrified at the loss – especially since all the news channels insisted on interviewing the grief-stricken mother. They were after ratings, but it was truly heart wrenching. You couldn’t help feeling this woman’s pain. Not long afterwards, there was a small roadside memorial for the child – a simple white cross with a teddy bear. Eventually, the family moved away. I don’t know why – I imagine that seeing the place where she lost a child everyday was too much to bear. And here’s where it went wrong. The crucified teddy bear was left on the roadside for about a year. It was weathered, dirty and falling apart when someone finally took it away.

A few weeks ago, another roadside memorial appeared on the Bayway. A white cross made of PVC (presumably so that it will last forever), and a wreath of silk flowers. I understand that people need to grieve. I get that. But WHY is it that they feel they have the right to foist their grief onto the general public? I really don’t need to see it. Yes, it’s sad. I’m sorry for your loss. But I don’t need a reminder of it every morning on my way to work. And on my way home from work every day, as I begin to unwind and enjoy the scenic view of the water and trees, I get to be reminded that something bad happened here. This is the only road off the island, so avoiding it isn’t an option. I really hate that. That is why we have memorial services. That is why we have cemeteries. And chances are really good that the family and friends who endured this loss do not even live around here. The locals here do not spend their time at the roadside beach. So who the hell is this for?! I’m really tempted to pull over one of these days and pull it all up and dispose of it myself. If not, that PVC and plastic flower crap will be there for years. We do NOT need to litter our roads with your grief.

I can’t believe I’m the only one who feels this way. Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

"Diet is DIE with a T" - garfield the cat

Well, it's been two weeks since my doctor gave me the big speech. I've had to make some drastic changes - going to the gym, regular exercise and the biggest one, changing my diet. I still refuse to "go on a diet." That just doesn't work, and it sounds like failure just by the nature of it. So, in altering my diet, I decided to just concentrate more on the foods that I like that are healthy - deemphasizing those that are not so good. I like most fruits and vegetables, and "grainy" foods anyway. I'm trying to cut out processed sugars and concentrate on more whole foods. Grocery shopping sure has changed. I read labels a lot more. And I can't do the "big grocery shop" like I used to because fresh fruits & vegetables don't have the shelf life I'm used to with other things.

It hasn't been too bad so far. The only thing that has been really hard has been chips. I could live on chips and salsa.
Chips and sour cream. Chips and butter. Just kidding. No chips and butter. But, I have been trying some alternatives - like different whole grain or baked chips. Some are good, some are bad. It cracks me up to read all the different suggestions from some of the magazines and sites that say things like, instead of Doritos, substitute apple slices with peanut butter. Are they for real? Have they never had Doritos? While I'm sure I would LOVE apple slices with peanut butter, it's not a substitute for the ol' nacho cheesey crunchy goodness. It's also been a little more expensive. I can't believe that it costs almost $5 for a loaf of good sprouted grain bread (and that's only gonna get worse - but that's another topic for another time). I bought a bunch of grains and whole flours and I'm breaking out the old bread maker for some experimentation. I'll keep you posted on how that goes.

Bill and I have had the argument about the cost of food. I say it's cheaper to be fat. He doesn't really believe it so much. Well, I think he's beginning to. Fresh and healthy stuff is just more expensive. I say, it's cheaper to feed a family of four for 20 bucks at McD's or Taco Hell than buying something healthy. "They can make a big salad for 20 bucks." But they're not buying salads at McDonald's. Besides, if healthy food was cheaper, then most poor (American) people wouldn't be fat. No judgment, just fact. His point is that it's cheaper in the long run because you don't have as many medical expenses. But I think most people are just too short sighted to think that far ahead when making everyday decisions.

Speaking of American diets, I had a conversation with my friend Patricia about that recently. She was talking about how in Europe, they don't pasteurize their milks and cheeses, and it doesn't seem to be a problem. Here, we load EVERYTHING with chemicals. Since I'm reading more labels, I notice that a lot more. I haven't figured out the balance, but I think if the ingredient list is too long, it's a bad sign. So, stick to the short and sweet. Well, not so much the sweet anymore. ;)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

Well, as a couple of you know, I recently received a bit of bad news. After a few doctor visits and lots of tests, I have been told that I am borderline diabetic with high blood pressure. Understand that this wasn’t a surprise. My grandmother was diabetic, and my mother has hypertension. So the writing was on the wall. My weight has always been an issue for me, even when it probably shouldn’t have been. I look back on photos of myself 10 years ago and think, wow, I wish I was that thin now. But I can assure you that even when I was “that thin” I saw myself much differently.

I come from a large family, and that’s not a headcount. Most of my family is overweight to some degree, like most people. I don’t think I was the typical “fat kid” growing up, but I always felt I was. When I was in junior high school, I had a year where I was really what I would call “skinny” – but I never knew that until years later when I looked back on old photos. Still not sure who that kid was. But, as I grew older and entered high school, my weight began to climb.

The same day that I got this diagnosis from my doctor, also happened to be the same day I had scheduled an appointment at my new gym for a total body analysis. For someone like me, this is always an emotionally delicate experience. It’s the ultimate feedback where you have to face the realities that you fear the most but know are true. I managed to hold it together and got through the assessment. Thankfully, Victor, my new wellness coach, was nothing but professional and never once did I see that secret wince that I feared.

There were a lot of emotions that day (and there still are), and mostly I was scared. Not for the reasons you might think. Not because I was told I am on the verge of a serious condition, the stress of which nearly knocked me out anyway, but because of what I didn’t feel. As I said, this wasn’t a surprise. I figured that someday, a doctor was going to give me the “lose weight or else” speech. But I always assumed that would be the incentive to make me do something about it. I would finally be forced into action. I would be ordered into life changing habits. Someone else would take control (and ultimately responsibility?). What scared me the most was that I didn’t feel this inspiration or compulsion to make the changes I need - which led to frustration, anger, and despair. My last motivational hope crumbled beneath me.

I managed to lock away the emotions for the rest of the day at work, through my appointment at the gym, and all the way home. I knew when I got home I was going to have to tell Bill, and I was not going to do this well. I love Bill more than I can tell you. I knew he would be supportive, but I knew better than to expect sympathy. And I’ll admit that maybe I needed a little pity party – just a small one. I shared this news with only a few of you, but only a little bit of info and at a safe distance. I couldn’t talk to any of you face to face. I’m feeling a little better – but not much. We talked and it was as I expected. But this works because I know he can look at it all objectively. He is being very supportive and we’re looking at the foods we both eat. And I’m trying really hard not to take my anger or frustration out on him when he makes a comment or asks a question about the food I am eating (or wanting to eat). I know he’s just trying to help. And it’s not his fault that I’m where I am now. It still doesn’t make it easy.

I still have a lot of raw emotion around this. I’m not even sure why I’m feeling compelled to write it down and share it with you in this manner. Maybe it’s easier to share it in a way that I can remain detached. Maybe this is how I need to cope. But don’t be surprised if you read this and notice that I’ve taken it down soon afterwards.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Oregon Gardens

One of the things we managed to squeeze into our trip to Oregon was to visit the Oregon Garden. It's in Silverton, a small town about an hour from Portland. It's not too far from Troy & Lisa's place up in the mountains (formerly known as Branch Ranch, soon to be renamed Morning Wood). But it's definitely worth the drive.

It was cold and rainy, about 52 degrees when we got there. I was sportin' the Oregon uniform of hiking shoes, shorts and a sweatshirt and cap. Bill dressed a little warmer in jeans and a coat. And even though it wasn't perfect weather, I'm so glad we went. Oregon gardens are very different from Florida that's for sure. I miss a lot of the things that we can't grow here successfully like hostas, lilies,
daphne, and especially Japanese lace leaf maples. I tried California poppies when we first moved here in the summer, but it wasn't successful. It was just too hot for them. Anyway, I took lots of pictures, which I won't post here, but you can view on webshots.
Additionally, I continue to be amazed at Phil and Albert's place. They have cultivated the most incredible garden at their home - something I never would have predicted. It's definitely the most beautiful in the neighborhood, and one of the nicest ones I have ever seen. Good job guys! (I was going to post this great picture they sent to me of the front yard, but I just discovered that I've apparently lost a TON of pictures on my computer. SHIT!)

Sorry about the post-post. I've been a little behind lately...