Sunday, March 30, 2008

A camera, a camera!

I have been wanting a digital camera for awhile now. It was in the back of my mind, one of those things you want, but never seem to get around to getting. Since starting this blog, I thought it would be cool to have some photos, but the only digital camera I could use for it was the big camcorder we have. Hubby has a digital, but it is with him most of the time for business. Plus, since I don't use it much, my photo taking skills with it are very lacking (one might say I take bad pictures no matter what, so I guess I can't blame it entirely on the lack of exposure to Hubby's camera!).

Anyway, I have had my eye on some cameras lately. I went Target and checked out their selection. They had some stuff on clearance (clearance is my best friend!) so I went home and checked the models online. I narrowed it down to a Sony DSCW80 and an Olympus model. They were about the same price on clearance and were pretty comparable in most features (7.2 pixels, sureshot/steady hand feature, etc.).

So The Family went to Target yesterday to buy The Boy some shoes. We were not successful in our quest for shoes, but he got the first season of Flight of the Conchords on DVD. While we were in the electronic section of the store, Ihalf-jokingly said to Hubby - maybe I should get a camera. He said I guess we could look. So we looked at the models I had researched. I was leaning towards the Sony since I thought the memory disk it took was the same as the one we had for the camcorder at home. So we waited for a sales person to finish up with another customer who was trying to buy a camcorder. Once we got someone's attention, she looked for the model in the locked drawers.

No luck.


they offered the floor model at a 30% discount off of the clearance price. So a camera that originally sold for 199.99 was purchased for .... $118.99.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Time Flies

It's been a week exactly since my last post - and it doesn't feel like it! Time is funny stuff, as Hap says in Always.
Hubby was away for a week - not just a work week but 7 days in a row, including weekend time. He did a bit of business in TX and then drove with his dad from TX to Reno, NV. So "real" time was suspended while he was away... and because it was such a long time, it feels difficult to get back into "real" time. I feel like sleeping in every morning - but there is a boy to get off to school, groceries to buy, dogs to walk, laundry to do, tai chi to practice and work to get paid for. But I would be just as happy to dream about it as to do it.
I have also been lost in Lost. I have about 2/3 of the first season complete. I like the character focused writing - although there is action, you get to see the story behind the behavior. It's one of the things I like about soap operas too - you get to see the whole person, not just the front they put on for the people that pass in and out of their lives. Everyone has more inside them than what is shown on the inside.
I remember as a kid wondering what it would be like to be this person or that person - what they did when they were my age and how different or similar it might have been. Empathic, I guess you could call it. As an adult, sometimes (most times) I forget to think about how another person might be perceiving a situation, based on their past experiences. But when I do, I find myself more open, more forgiving, more patient.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


I have never watched Lost. It always looked interesting, but when it first came on, we were already committed to enough tv that we didn't add it to our regular tv habit. I've picked up on things here and there - read some stuff on entertainment websites, but that's about it.

So, when I was putzing around today, I went to the ABC webpage, and wouldn't you know - you can watch ALL seasons of Lost in HD Streaming online. I started to watch the pilot episode, but only got through about the first 20 minutes before I had to leave the house. I have to say, J.J. Abrams may have got me hooked again. I loved Alias - I hated to see it go. I can't wait to see what he is going to do with Star Trek (The Early Years a.k.a. figuring out why Kirk loved his green ladies so much!) And now, Lost. It really grabs your attention.

So I went back to the website tonight to finish the episode and maybe watch some more. But, being 8:30 every kid in the east coast is online I think, so the video is choppy, I can hear dialogue but see not matching video, etc. Damn kids!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Tai Chi Or Chai Tea?

I have been going to Tai Chi classes for quite some time now. I think this summer it will be two full years.

I can honestly say I have no idea how stressed, cranky and unhappy I would be without it.

I generally go twice a week - Tuesday and Thursday mornings - for about an hour or so. We stretch and do some breathing exercises. Then we walk, and then we start our first section. All of that may not make any sense, so here is the breakdown:

Stretch - well, everyone should know what this is. It's not that hard to do - we warm up our bodies, moving side to side, rotating our arms and shoulders and toes, taking care to remember our poor knees and our spine. I (and most of my family) have always been able to "crack" our necks - this is just one place I get to do it and no one looks alarmed (actually they might look a little jealous if they are not cracking!). Part of the way we stretch will focus on the breathing while we stretch. Reach up, breathe in. Reach down, breathe out. All controlled, at a steady pace - not a race to finish but a steady in and out to relax the body and clear the mind. One of my favorite stretches is for the toes. Place your weight on one foot, and lift the other so the toes only are on the ground. (Note: we do this barefoot or with socks on for best results). Then, rotate the toes 9 times in one direction and then 9 times in the opposite direction. Next, press down on your toes. Next, press down on your toes, but this time, you bend the toes backwards (crack!crack!crack!). Last, to stretch the ankle a bit, put the foot behind the one with the weight on it, and press with the toes backward. Then you switch and do the other foot. IT...IS...SIMPLY...AMAZING! You have now just given all of your internal organs a quickie massage (and you didn't know you doing anything but cracking your toes, huh?)

Next is the walk. Have you ever thought about how you walk? Remember being taught how to walk? I have no idea how I learned how to walk - and I do it everyday! (In fact, I have to do it now to walk Whiny Puppies - be right back!)


The tai chi walk is really no different than a 'regular' walk, but because you are now thinking about it, it suddenly becomes a challenge. The basic things to remember are to have your heel hit the floor first, to rock to your toes - not to land flat footed on the ground. It is not a march - STOMP, STOMP, STOMP, but rather a gliding. So, let's pretend. Start out putting your right leg out, heel touching the ground, rocking/gliding forward so your toes touch the ground. Shift your weight onto the right leg. Next, shift back and put your full weight on the left leg and lift your right foot up on the heel so you can pivot it 45 degrees to the right. Roll your foot forward so the toes (and heel) are now on the floor. Next, bring your right foot up to your left foot, with the toes touching the ground (not your heel or full foot). Next, step out and to the left a bit with your left foot, again having the heel touch down first and gliding forward to have the toes touch the ground. Shift your weight onto left leg and then shift the weight back to the right leg, lifting your left foot on the heel and pivot 45 degrees to the left.

I think it took me a month to get that down. Then my teacher added MOVING MY ARMS!! This is like the proverbial 'chewing gum and walking at the same time' thing. When I had felt confident about my walk, I suddenly couldn't go more than one step without falling into confusion.

I have a real admiration for the natural instinct that we as humans have to learn these multi-level steps to complete "simple" tasks such as walking, using our fingers/thumbs, how the body all works together. I have even more admiration for those going through physical therapy to re-learn those "simple" tasks after surgeries or health issues. It is not an easy thing to do.

Now I have several kinds of walks under my belt - basic, brush knee, monkey back (what fun that one is!), toe kick and heel kick. Some of them are better than others (my kicks still need work) - but it is a process and no one expects me to know them all and do them perfectly.

The next part of class is when we do "section one". In the type of tai chi I am learning, there are three sections, made up of over a dozen movements. I really like section one, for several reasons. One - it is the one I have done the most and am most comfortable with. Two - There are no kicks. Three - I have done it so often that I can concentrate on other aspects (breathing, flowing chi) and still complete the movements (in the correct order, too!). Four - there are no kicks (did I say that already? It bears repeating.)

I have completed Section Two at this point, although there are still rough patches and some stop and go times. I still think too much during section two - it is not memorized in my muscle yet. Of course, there are overlapping moves in section one and two, so sometimes when I am in section two I will inadvertently go into a section one move instead of the section two move I should do. I have heard it gets worse in Section Three - just slight changes from Section Two, plus some more kicks.

I have started Section Three over the past few weeks. The starting moves are straight from Section Two, so that has moved along well. I am learning the next set of new moves, which I know fairly well. I have been shown the next moves, and they are "repeats" out of section one or two (I can't remember), but I haven't done them enough to even say I know what they are for sure.

The time spent on Tai Chi has allowed me to get away from my busy thoughts - to concentrate on the basics of breathing - to have a mini vacation twice a week. I will practice my breathing if I start to feel anxious about something or if someone is aggravating me. I am known to be a big crier - everything from TV Commercials to books to music to church sermons. I have visualized the tai chi walk in those moments, and have found that I can control my emotions from overwhelming me.

But... as to the title of this post... Tai Chi or Chai Tea... it gets so mixed up in my head that I often ask Hubby to make me a cup of Tai Chi after dinner. Hey - you try saying them both and not have them sound awfully similar!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Rain, Rain, Go Away, Come Back Some Other Day

Rain, Rain, Go Away, Come Back Some Other Day
It's Raining Men
It's raining cats and dogs
I'm Singing In the Rain, Just Singing in the Rain, What a glorious feeling, I'm Happy Again
Don't Rain On my Parade
I've Seen Fire and I've Seen Rain, I've Seen Sunny Days I thought Would Never End
I Hear Laughter in the Rain, walking hand and hand with the one I love
Oh, It's Raining Again, my Love's at an end
I only wanted to see you laughing in the purple rain
Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain, telling me what a fool I been
But I never liked the rain until I walked through it with you
She's my kind of rain, like love from a drunken sky
Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain
Sittin on the Porch Swing, Listening to the light rain, Beatin on the tin roof, Baby just me and you, rocking with the rhythm of the rain
Come on let it rain, let it rain down on me
Still I wonder, who'll stop the rain?
Kentucky rain keeps pouring down
Rain on the scarecrow, blood on the plow
It's Raining, It's Pouring, the Old Man is Snoring
I sure can smell the rain
Itzy Bitzy Spider, crawled up the water spout, down came the rain and washed the spider out

It has rained all day. It rained all last night. It will rain again tonight. It might even rain tomorrow.

Friday, March 7, 2008

A Full Night's Sleep

I've finally had a full night's sleep. After 3 or 4 weeks of getting up anywhere between 3:30 and 4:30, I finally had a night where I was able to sleep through the night uninterrupted.

The usual source of my sleep disruption is my dog. We have two of them - Chewie and Pansy. Chewie is really Hubby's dog; Pansy is mine. Chewie is about 8 years old now - an Australian Cattle Dog. He's very protective and fierce and scary looking to anyone who hasn't seen a silver haired dog! He's not particularly big like a lab, but he has muscle and will run like anything, especially after squirrels and rabbits.

Pansy is a dog we (I) adopted two summers ago. I have no idea what got into me - I am not really a dog person. My theory is you are either a dog person or a cat person - and I was totally convinced I was a cat person. That summer I had some overpowering need to have a dog. I really did not want to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on some dog at a store, so I started going to all the pounds around me. Hubby said I was in charge of the search - he didn't want to go to shelters and see all the dogs waiting for new homes or death, which ever came first. So I went online to and looked and looked and looked. There were several that I called about, but had "just missed". I saw Pansy listed in a shelter that rescued dogs from the south - where they routinely put dogs down after a few weeks.

The Boy had been interested in getting a dog and put his two cents in for a beagle. Now, all I had heard about beagles was the braying they were famous (or infamous) for. I was not too keen on more noise in the house, so I wasn't too sure about that. Pansy fit the bill - she was part beagle and part pointer. So we went to see her - me and The Boy. She warmed right up to The Boy and basically ignored me.

As part of the adoption process, everyone in the family had to meet Pansy and get along - that included Chewie. So I had to bring Hubby and Chewie to meet Pansy.

That was an interesting experience. Since we have Chewie trained pretty much as a guard dog, he is very protective and loud. The trainer at the shelter took Chewie by the leach and walked around him, going behind him. The growl that came out of him when she brushed his tail was low and guttural, but he stood still and let her complete her walk around. She said something to the effect of she was impressed that he didn't bite at her and that we had not put up a fuss about her actions. I was pretty much figuring if she was stupid enough to walk up behind a strange dog, she deserved whatever she got! Anyway, we got the two dogs together in a "neutral" area - somewhere Pansy had not been on the property and obviously Chewie had never been there either. So neither of them "owned" that space. They sniffed each other, with Chewie especially interested in her butt (no surprise there!). Then they went on their separate ways... no biting, no growling, no tension. So all went well and we ended up bringing Pansy home the next day.

As a shelter dog, house training was not her strong suit. The first week was horrible - the whining from the crate, the constant battle to get her out before her bodily fluids got out, and the constant peril our belongings suffered from the threat of being chewed up. We got her settled into a routine, but every now and then she would get in the basement and use the concrete floor as her spot to pee or poop. We had to start closing the door to the basement, and that seemed to clear up.

We kept her in a crate at night until just recently. She never complains about being in the crate... she likes to snuggle up in it. But the crate takes up this huge amount of space - there is just no good place for it. We finally ended up putting it in front of our front door. It is a double door, so we put it in front of the door that does not open. Unfortunately that also puts it in front of our closet door, which we actually do use. So, it was a big inconvenience and a pain in the butt. I finally decided to get her out of the crate at night. The big problem is ... she is convinced that she is a lap dog. She jumps on the bed and snuggles with me. I generally don't have a problem that, but I do enjoy being able to move in my own bed when I am sleeping. So, I took a small leash and attached it to my bedframe. I put her bedding from the crate on the floor and now that is her bed. It works great - no more crate and she still can't jump on the bed with me.

Unfortunately, I am a very light sleeper. Everytime she gets up I wake up. Then she lets out a little soft whine, just enough for me to hear (and not Hubby). I get up, take her out, and I have to give her credit, she almost always pees and/or poops. Then, back in we go... her to her bed and me to mine. But, alas, I am now awake.... and sleep eludes me. For an hour ... for two... until it is just about 6 am - time to get up.

But last night, I heard no whine. For the first time in a very long time, I got 6.5 hours of sleep IN A ROW.

My body was so unaccustomed to it, I think this morning's headache is a direct result of its' confusion.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

USA Today Article - Babies Can Cause "Momnesia"

There I was, innocently reading my morning papers, when I came across this headline from USA Today: Babies Can Cause "Momnesia". That was too good to pass up (I usually just read the Life Section).

Now, my son is 14 years old (15 this summer, actually!) so it's not like I am pregnant or have a newborn. Yet, I still feel like I am suffering from Momnesia. The article talks about how the experience and pain of childbirth seems to fade and the knowledge you learn to deal with your baby at particular stages of life "takes over" your brain and other things start to slide... like that milk belongs in a refrigerator, not a cupboard.

I personally have not done that, but I often find myself getting to the car, turning it on, going down the driveway, and then saying to myself - where am I going? I check to see if I have The Boy with me...if I don't, I am probably on my way to pick him up. If I do, I am probably on my way to take him somewhere. If I am in my pj's, I am on my way to take him to school. If I have "real" clothes on, I am on my way to karate (or possibly a friend's house).

I will also walk into a room with a purpose... just not one I remember. I will stand there... looking around, flailing about for a purpose... do I sit on the toilet now? or am I there to take a shower?

Of course, you could just put this down to getting older and more forgetful. Either way I.DO.NOT.LIKE.IT!!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

One More For...

The Boy was at his Karate class Friday night. He actually had two - one was the class where he student teaches and then he has his own teen class. I dropped him off and decided to grab dinner with Hubby before picking up The Boy. Hubby & I went together to pick him up. We went into the "little room" - which is where the karate school expanded and took over a Curves that shut down. There were about 8 or so kids there that night - about average.

We watched as they practiced their katas. I love watching katas... you have to remember certain moves in certain sequence... it looks like a dance, but very quick and with the intention to defend or attack. We watched for a bit and then Hubby decided to go next door to the main building to chit chat with the staff. The class was wrapping up and the instructor was getting ready to have them do the ending exercises. They generally do sit-ups, push ups, crunches, and things of that nature. Depending on what belt they are, they will have to complete more or less of each thing. That night the instructor had them do the same amount of everything...they did 15 crunches, 15 sit-ups and 15 push ups. The push ups were last. When everyone had counted off and completed the 15 in unison, the instructor asked them: "can you do one more for your mom?" and the kids replied: "Yes, sir!" and they went down to start the push up. As he was going down, The Boy said in a loud voice: "This one is for you mom - I love you!" and then completed his push up. The other parents and siblings laughed and I admit I laughed too. It was such a complete spontaneous moment - I knew he meant it and he didn't care if all the other kids and parents knew it too. I really wanted my husband to be there to have heard it - it was one of those things that in the storytelling loses its meaning - you need to be there to remember it the way it should be remembered.

Next the instructor said: "Now do one for your dad" and they did. Since Hubby wasn't there, there was no love for him. The instructor gave The Boy a bit of a hard time - "don't you love your dad too?", knowing that he does and that dad had just walked away.

Next the instructor said: "Now do one for your grandparents.". The Boy did four - one for each grandparent he has.

Then the instructor started to have the kids say who they should do "one more" for - brothers, sisters, friends, pets, school vacation, the instructor, Christmas....

Finally the instructor let them stop. He asked if the kids knew how many push ups they had actually done. The kids were laughing and really hadn't been keeping count... so no one had a real answer. The instructor told them they did at least 15 more push ups using the "one more for" method. He talked about how they got motivated by using that "one more for" as a way to keep going and focus one the goal, not the activity of getting to the goal.

I guess we all need to remember that sometimes... we can do just one more.. to get to our goals.

Let me know what you think.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

DVD?CD update

Well, I think we have most of it done... I know there are probably a few CD's that snuck by us. Total count ... 196 CD's.

Take a look at the screen shot to see what it looks like.