Monday, March 24, 2008

Got the Tat!

I will add the photo of the tattoo tomorrow or the next day. I just got it, so it's sort of well...bloody is the correct term. I don't wish to eliminate any of my readers by grossing you out, so suffice it to say that during the entire 3 solid minutes of pain and agony, I was a total baby. I had a wooden Popsicle stick in my mouth to stop me from biting my tongue. Actually my good friend Niki was with me, and my daughter Laura was there as well. I talked to them through the gritting of my teeth and between bouts of cussing and laughing.

I was actually driving down the road when I saw the sign for Sub-Q Tattoos on Memorial at Western in Oklahoma City. Most tattoo parlors don't have the colors black and pink as their primary advertisement colors and that fact intrigued me. I pulled in and went inside the parlor. I was summoned to the back of the shop by a low voice. I could hear the rumming and humming of tools and I know I hear voices other than the man calling to me. Two out of the three artists were in and they were both working on people when I stepped up.

Cameron is the man who etched me. We agreed that I would be coming back at 8:30 p.m. since he was booked and had customers waiting on him. Thinking about the business end of the tattoo artist on the way home - I may be in the wrong business my friend. My 1" tattoo which took all of 3 minutes - we timed him; was $50. Not bad for me, not bad for Cameron. He had promised me that he would be finished in under 10 minutes, knowing my threshold for pain was lower than say that of a...anyone. I'm a big big baby, not joking!

So, I returned at 8:31 with my daughter and friend in tow. Both girls wanted to watch me scream - love my buddies. They got to see my eyes popping, my teeth grinding, and Laura held my pumping hand as I squeezed and squeezed and squeezed for all of three (wee little) minutes. I was laughing most of the time, but it was coupled with the swearing, the "Ouch" and "OK" mumbling that inadvertently shot out of my mouth while the bite of the clave dug rapidly under my skin....over and over and over again. It is SOOOOO pretty, and it was just completely worth it.

Thanks to Cameron. He's a master, and he's fun too - as his own tattoos will attest, he is determined in life until his own death. When I asked him what he was determined to do, he told me he was determined to succeed. He measured that in peace of mind and achievement of personal desires. He assured me that he was well on his way. Come to think of it, he can keep his artist position. I'll stick to writing. I don't do blood that well - mine is bad enough. Someone else's would have to be an emergency for me to really be able to handle it - I'm good.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


(Easter in Baghdad)

Bringing faith to a place where you've been told to fight others primarily because of their own faith could be a difficult task to bear - let alone achieve. Our U.S. Armed Forces spent the morning in prayer as I am sure many of their families did hours later here in America. For me, bringing my burdens to the foot of the cross may be easier than for my son. After all, I have been praying for his protection, asking God's grace over his wisdom - but it's Reuben who knows he will be asked to be in this place of destruction soon.

Six Easters have been spent in Baghdad so far; let us pray that this is our last. I fully support every effort of our troops from the way they wish they could operate to the way they are asked to. I can't fully liken it to a teaching assignment, but I know what it feels like when an administration has one idea and they won't let reality set in long enough to shoulder the burden for what really is happening. As a teacher we were expected to do miracles - without assistance most of the time, and we were asked, no we were told, to produce results that would both fit the budget and be beneficial to the system before it was beneficial to our students. It has to feel something like that for a soldier.

Our men and women aren't asked to serve they volunteer. They aren't forced to wear the uniform, and they aren't mandated to put their hearts, lives, and bodies before you and I - they do it for the outcome. They do it for the inward struggle that they feel dictates what is right and what is wrong. They really are a crew of believers if ever there was one; whether that belief is in Christ or their country, sometimes (hopefully) both...but they serve at a time when we need them to be there. To God be the glory, great things He has done - - through our men, and through our women, and through our prayers.

He is not there. He is risen! Go and tell.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

People Don't Cook Much Anymore

I love to cook. I bake, I use all sorts of really cool utensils; I even create new recipes just for the fun of it but I'm the ONLY person I know my age that does this. I guess I see people like Rachel Ray on television or in the magazines. I know there are a few of us left, but it just amazes me how people get so excited when they come over and I'm pulling a custard out of the oven! (One I made, not one I took out of a box).

Today was my son's birthday and since he couldn't be with me because he was in Alaska doing the Army thing, I decided to bake him a custard pie and then I decided to eat it for him too. I had to do something didn't I? Baking a cake was out of the question, one of my round pans has been stolen and I don't want to bake one set it aside, bake the other, let it cool, and then stack them and frost them. Besides, no one wanted cake today. (You know, I could go out and get another 9" pan couldn't I? Note to self: Get a pan soon.)

Jeanie knows me, she sees me cooking all the time. Every Saturday during football season I either make chili, burgers, ribs, something - and I throw dips together, make up spicy food samplers for her and I as we watch the game. I'm not one to sit around the house and let a good stove go to waste. No, I'm IN that kitchen. When I go look at houses on the market for fun I go to the kitchen and the bathrooms first. I'm living in those two rooms. I'm IN the kitchen, and then I'm IN the's got to have a big, deep, jet tub or forgetaboutit! Me and my bubbles, we're all about the hot water and leaving us alone.

Back to the custard. I have the back door open because it was warm enough, and the neighbors started showing up. "Cooking? Are you making something?" Of course I'm cooking! (and of course I'm sharing) I don't ever eat the entire pie by myself you know..that would be wrong. I share everything I make and it may as well go to the people standing outside my door smelling the inside of my house from the back gate. I live in a condo/townhouse so the neighbors aren't that far away actually. We have killer block parties in the spring and summer too.

So, let the stoves fire up my friends...Spring is here! Today custard in celebration of my baby boy. Tomorrow cinnamon pineapple baked-ham, yams, chickpea soup, and chocolate parfait....with walnuts. I do walnuts from time to time too. Put a little fiber in that cup missy! I don't know why more people don't cook for themselves, it's cheaper for sure, but the best thing is that you control the content of whatever goes into your body...fats, trans fats, calories, oils, everything...tomorrow is Easter, we're off the diet by 45%, but we're smiling! (sharing and smiling) Eggs are on the agenda too, but mostly hunting with the kids in the hood.

The Boy, The Boy, The Boy! Happy 22nd

Nothing short of the return of Christ could make my mind stop thinking of my son, and his birth 22 years ago today. I'm all but sure that the war can't stop me, presidential debates,hunger and poverty all over the world, ignorance in our schools and communities, the need for greater education, lower taxes, better bridges - no, none of those pressing issues can take the place of the feelings I had and the joy in my heart when I consider what I was doing this hour 22 years ago. I was sweating, I was crying, I was about to rip the head off of anyone and everyone who spoke. I remember the doctor ordering barbecue chicken for lunch while I was busting in pain - and I remember my heart breaking over the fact that my baby would come into the world without a father. Everything negative, everything bad, everything hard left my mind within a nano second of the moment I saw his face.

The Christmas preceding the birth of my son was a good time for watching football, reflecting on the year's events, and preparing for the birth of my baby. There would be very little time after he was born to plan or make plans for his every need. I remember seeing the Philadelphia Eagles playing someone and because he was kneeling down praying with both teams, I couldn't make out exactly who the man on his knees was. I could tell he was a big man. The media made a big deal out of his praying, and his decision to pray with both teams. I suppose the media felt that any one player would choose only to ask for God's Divine help for his own team - this man was more than just a ball player to me. He was a leader and a man of honor. As it turned out the player was Reggie White. I remember holding my round belly and saying out loud to the same God that this man had just finished speaking to on national television (there alone in my little apartment), to make my unborn son EXACTLY like this man Reggie White. I may be delivering this kid without an earthly father, but he would not be without a Heavenly Father.

As I pushed and cried twenty-two years ago today my joy was fully met in the eyes of a little boy no bigger than a box. He couldn't run play routes, he couldn't tackle quarterbacks. He couldn't lift his head - - but he changed my world immediately. You know that song from Creed "With Arms Wide Open"? There's a line in it that says "Well I just heard the news today, it seems my life is going to change." It never occurred to me before his birth that absolutely everything I thought, believed, lived for, or strived for would emphatically change - but change it did. Seeing that face, holding that baby I lost my first name. I was no longer Jude. I had in one second become a completely different person, one I should have realized I had become 9 months prior - I was now forever Mom.

Over the next few years, and usually on March 22, I would have glimpses of what would happen in his life. At the age of three my son wanted me to buy him a little toy tank. I did and look where that led. He's driving them now in the Army. When he was 10 he was given an assignment to pick a hero and when he and everyone else returned from Spring Break he was to be prepared to give a speech about his hero - my son, on his own, without help from me, chose Reggie White who was now playing for the Green Bay Packers. This was a turning point in my son's life and we became Green Bay fans because of it. At 16 I was unable to buy my son a car, on his 18th I was too poor to throw him a party - - my heart fell and I remember crying in my room where I thought I was alone. I rocked back and forth on my bed and I asked God why I had to be so inadequate, why did I have to be so worthless that I couldn't even get my son a present let alone be able to throw him a proper party for the one day he certainly deserved it...I was NOT alone. Two arms wrapped around me that day; two manly strong arms and a softened man's voice called back "Mom, I love you, and you love me, that's enough. You didn't give me up. You didn't give up on me ever. That's enough."

Today my baby boy is 22. Today he is doing something that he never believed he could do. He is not doing what Reggie White did, but he is exactly like him. When he suits up for battle it is not on the gridiron, but he is wearing a uniform. He stands with power, with pride, with honor, and my son is not too proud EVER to kneel and to remember to ask for help - - the word "REUBEN" as I've mentioned before, means "Behold, My Son". Literally, it means LOOK...I have a son! His middle name is Andrew, it means "Manly". I truly have a manly son. I may have given birth 22 years ago to him, but he has given me life indeed.

Of course I love my daughters, and of course I will reflect on their lives as well as they achievements and gains each and every day, not only on their birthdays. There's just something about the first one that changes the scope of living - this time it happened to be my baby boy. My heart, as I call him. My joy. Happy 22nd son, and thank you for being my hero.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Neoprene Woman!

I got this really cool bike, and I'm working out on it every single day, which can be a problem for me - - because I always over do things. This week I decided that working out wasn't quite enough. No, I had to have neoprene. Yes neoprene, as in wetsuit material - it comes in separates as well as casual wear for the surf. I have the pants but I bought the wrong size so I wear them over my work out pants and where it may actually NOT be the fashion statement I would prefer, it works great because all the sweat that may have been on my body now goes to the pants. I was just wearing them over a pair of men's boxer briefs, but the briefs weren't long guys ever notice that or is it just me? Men don't probably worry about that. You can't actually get boxers long enough to come to the knee can you?

So, neoprene also comes in handy-dandy zip up waist bands, it comes in Velcro waist trimmers, and if you're into the walking vest you can get it unweighted or weighted. I went with the zipper. It has 3 levels and I'm proud to say I'm actually (currently) in the middle, using the 2nd zipper with a very open minded goal set for the third. There isn't a size such as small, medium, or large. The box proclaims that any size waist can squeeze into one of the limitations set forth in double stitching. I'm OK for now. I'm not too tight, I'm not too loose in the 2nd rung..but the day will come I'm sure when that tighter fit will be on my mind!

With ankle weights, wristbands, and neoprene covered dumbbells I am so set, I am so ready to start my two-a-day workouts on my little bike. I do a morning ride of 30 minutes and an afternoon ride for the same. I'm sure I look like a boxer in training with my weights being tightly pumped by my sides; sometimes I raise them like I'm taking a victory lap or something on the mountains of ... wherever it is they ride bikes for miles and miles wearing bright yellow. I see it, I don't pay much attention. I'm much more of a contact sports watcher. Not that cycling can't become a full contact sport, but it's not suppose to happen that way.

I'm all plugged up with my iPod blaring loud live concert music in my ears - never mamsy-pamsy new age crap...that stuff is reserved for the wine time when I wind down after CSI-NY (or something similar) and write in my journal. I don't do sissy music when I ride - just when I write! I know my place. You can't exactly sweat to 3rd Force! You can't go at break-neck speed and scare the dogs to death while you're listening to George Benson! Hell no! Skynard, .38 Special, Journey, Boston, Foreigner, Creed, Credence Clearwater, OH OH yes, Nickelback! You have to crank those guys. I can even put up with a little Styx, but never jazz - - not on the bike. (I did actually smack my dog's head with my foot today while I was riding. I think he thought he could save me from the beast that was torturing me...I was screaming, or singing, depending on who you ask - and he just thought I needed assistance. He won't do that again.) Sent the Dachshund on a flight half way across the room - ouch.

With the calculations I have come up with; keeping in mind that my degrees are related to languages and romantic poets, I should be losing about 1 pound per week just by riding the bike. Another pound will be lost by eating the fiber that I eat, and perhaps 1/2 a pound to a full pound will be lost in the fact that I don't eat more than 1800 calories a day unless I burn more than 1000 on the bike. Then you have to eat-back as they call it, and I do...but I choose chocolate as a buy-back product. It has fiber.

In 10 weeks I should be glorious. In 15 I should be simply unstoppable. Can't wait really - got my eyes on a jewel I do. Let's see if he can wiggle his way out of my stare. Could be fun to watch. I promise not to bite - much.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Dare To Dream

(Kanji "Dream")

Dream. Don't ever let another soul tell you that what you dream isn't real. Don't ever listen to a voice, no matter whose voice it is, telling you that your dreams simply can't be real, or that they can't come true. The only one strong enough to stop your dreaming - of course, is you. Dream until every dream possible has been exhausted; and that is forever. Forever Dream.

When I go to the tattoo artist soon I will have this Kanji symbol etched into the inside of my left wrist (outer side). There is a reason for it. My daughter Laura is in love with all things Japanese - hence the choice for the Kanji. The word was chosen for my own soul - - because I dream. Because I have always dreamed. Because I will never ever, as long as I live, stop dreaming. Why would I try? From dreams come my best ideas. From dreams come the strength I have to believe. From dreams come the very essence of what I desire, and if I couldn't have what I desired, what would I want from living?

Laura and I just finished watching a very LAURA movie: "Enchanted" (2007 Disney). Naturally it is full of dreaming, ideas, creative madness, genius really, and without a doubt everything Disney was first created for. Without fantasy there is only reality; a sad and dense world of hurtful, meaningless, dreary world full of never-can-do people and those who have simply given up. I think it best to say that Winston Churchill summed it up: "NEVER never never give up". When I watch a film like Enchanted I am immediately reminded of the silliness of our world as well. We can openly and honestly confront some of our static behaviors with a film like this. We can bring our whimsical wants back to ground zero. We can also learn from our own mistakes of forgetting to remember to dream - to let go. To dance.

Dreaming and praying have much in common for me as well. Where I will not hold out for a stout little fairy-godmother to come along and dress me, I will hold rocks in my hands and lift up my heart and my voice to God asking for His intervention both in my own life and that of a man I dream of, believe in, and in the conscious mind fantasize about perhaps even in that place, that magical pixie-dust place where rivers of liquid crystals flow...because God made me. Not only did He make me, He gave me this heart. Where it fell is really not in my own control - dreaming (and praying) become necessary at this point. And I dance.

With love and life surrounding realities - with swirling visions of would be, could be, might be, should be, at least there is dancing. At least there is the dream. What good is a fairy-godmother when the heart is trapped? Let your spirit dance before a Creator of such gifts, let your mind wander to His blessings, dream.

The Kanji reminds me to never stop loving. It reminds me to never give up my hope. It reminds me that I am not in control of the realities which surround me. It even resembles the dancer as she spins and lifts her skirts to the wind without care. It dances on, it dances on.

Can I Get An Amen?

And all the people said..."AMEN!" I was little, but I remember being raised in a Southern Baptist Church in the middle of the Bible Belt itself, that people did do this. The preacher would stand at his pulpit (often one that my father had built for the church) and he would say something profound. Just as soon as he did, he would come back with "And all the people said..." trailing off just long enough to give the que for everyone in the congregation not too shy to speak, to give out a hearty and well deserved "Amen!" I need that today! God did something kinda cool.

God is always doing cool things in my life, so one more won't hurt if I tell you about it. I won't mention the name of the school I was suppose to be visiting today. I won't mention the name of the principal who could possibly be blamed, I won't even say the name of the CITY because it's not the fault of the people of that glorious city - - God did something cool today.

Last night my manager asked me to be at the airport at X time, and to fly out at X time in order to make my connection in Dallas (I can say Dallas, it's OK). I always fly through OKC to Dallas, Chicago, or Atlanta because that's how we have to make our connections to wherever it is that we are ultimately going. Now, I will say this, I fly to Dallas enough that I should just move there! I prefer living in Chicago, but I fly to Dallas so often for events and to visit with the men and women in the USO...I should just move to Dallas. When Mike asked me to be at the airport I told him it wouldn't be a problem. We live 15 minutes away - it doesn't matter what time of the day I'm expected.

Mike then added these words "Oh, the principal didn't want you to use any religious overtones or Christian wording in your presentation." I had to laugh. My dog is the reason I travel, I tell her story. I tell the whole story, the complete story - we begin the story simply by introducing the dog, whose very name is a religious overtone. Her name is FAITH. He understood, but he said the principal was adamant about it, and that they tried to keep it all on an even playing field. Wow, God made every playing field out there - right? OK...I'll do what I'm asked, but that didn't stop me from praying about it. I asked God to let something happen so that the principal herself could ask me something about my personal faith or maybe a kid who needed to hear God's word today.

This morning I got up at 4:37. I showered. I dressed. I got myself and my dog into my car at 5:10 and we made it to the airport. Our flight wasn't until a little after 6:00 so we were fine. Oklahoma City's airport, though named Will Rogers WORLD Airport, isn't all that big. You can make it through the terminal and the security in usually about 30 minutes. However, today it was really really crowded. I got there in time, and we made it past every check point with a few minutes to spare - but there was a problem with that particular flight - - weather. Not weather in OKC so much, although it was raining buckets. The weather was in Dallas where my connecting flight was. They put a delay on MY flight. I wasn't going to make it in time to do the show. It just seemed...oh, I don't know...Godly.

I called my manager told him what the 6 men in American Airlines white shirts and blue jackets were saying at the gate. They discussed it over and over, and decided that one flight (my connection) in Dallas could be cancelled to allow others to have the time slot to make their connecting flights if and when our plane took off. It did finally take off, but I wasn't on it. EVERYONE else on the plane was on the plane a little later, but MY connection was just gotta love God.

This is Passion Week. Show a little of it! If someone tells me not to use religious overtones for their presentation - OK...but I'm asking God to do His work any which way He chooses. My dog's name is Faith for a reason.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Dreams Can Really Be Strange At Times

Last night I dreamed that my daughter Laura and were in a store and she was playing with the bowls of water that you could add colors to and put under light to see the little sea creatures that floated around in the water. We used to call them SeaMonkies, but I'm not sure what they were in my dream. She was having fun, but she was only using the color yellow. She added a tiny bit of red to one of the several bowls she was playing with and it shaded the bottom of the bowl but didn't go up or become displaced in the bowl - sort of like a tequila sunrise.

Laura asked me what I thought, and I told her it was pretty, but asked about the choice of color. The lady at the counter interrupted and showed us what would happen if we added dark or indigo blue (she put two tablespoons of it into a separate bowl that was behind another counter.) Suddenly the water began to boil. I was a little concerned for the little floating guys because there were in essence being boiled alive. The counter woman told me not to worry it was part of the process.

After several minutes of boiling, the water descended and out of the bottom of the bowl/tray came forth several black stony looking creatures more recognizable. Some were turtles, some bugs, and others just rocks moving around, but they were alive. As soon as I looked back they were replaced with several black and dark gray puppies. Puppies came out of the turtles and bugs...OK...that makes sense I guess.

I asked to play with the little black and white dachshund but another woman had taken it before I could get around to the other side of the counter. It didn't matter, I didn't have to have a dachshund to hold so I reached into the box, no longer a bowl/tray, and lifted up a little curly gray and white English Sheepdog mix. He was obviously a toy or stuffed animal, but he moved like a real dog. He even bit like one. I was really impressed.

As I looked over my shoulder Laura asked me who the man was that I was holding. I looked at my arms and I was actually holding a little 8-10 inch man with the strength of a newborn baby. He was like a little gnome more than a traditional man I suppose, he had eyelashes that were thick and blinking at me. He wore a little beard, but his tiny head was unable to be held up on its own. He was just a little thing, and I couldn't figure out where he came from. He was smiling and I could tell he was friendly - when I set him down he actually walked away, quite strong, but I wasn't going to let him leave without showing him first to the lady behind the counter. She acted as if she had no idea where he came from or what to do with him. She asked me about the puppy - and I tried to explain, but the little man wanted down again, and I simply asked him if he would be OK. He assured me yes, he would be, and he left.

Laura picked up her blanket and we went to the next store. I hope the little guy's fine. I haven't seen him around today. Laura's baby blanket has been washed, dried, folded, and stored for years, but she did sleep with it last night. Maybe that started all of this.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Kiss

(Here is the link:

We are all so amazed at the bravery and the strength it takes to become a firefighter or a police officer - so much so, that most of our kids (not me, I wanted to be a Judge) want to be one or the other when they grow up. There's something about being the hero in all of us. We just think WOW, I would love to be there, and be that guy, or that woman, that makes the difference in some one's life. Maybe that's why most of our firefighters and police officers seem to stay in their respective jobs for years. They really do make the difference.

Of course, there are the other heroes: doctors, nurses, good lawyers, good judges, caregivers and people of compassion through our churches who never really hear their anthems being song for them; but we should sing them. Instead of baseball and football cards being traded I wonder if we could be more like the company DEVON and applaud integrity over intensity. Maybe then we'd stop worshipping actors, ball players, race car drivers and singers. I know our entertainment personnel has been active in ways I wish I could be. Gary Sinise founded Operation Iraqi Children with writer Laura Hillenbrand. George Clooney, through his stand on saving the people of Darfur has been actively speaking to consumers of Chinese products. I can't and won't forget to mention the love and compassion of Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Oprah, and Madonna - all very very appreciated. Even throwing Gary in the mix I'd have to say I would collect cards with unsung heroes like my own Edmond and Oklahoma City Fire Department, and most of the Police Force before buying one with an actor's face and bio.

When you (when I) think of bravery I think of our Armed Forces; it's a natural thing to do...but I also think of these guys. Dusty, beaten, overheated, hurt, wounded, and stronger than any action figure's dream. To say thank you just isn't enough. Let me try to hug each one with a prayer today...and whisper I love you in your ears. You truly are the greatest on this earth. THANK YOU.

Bettin' on the Ponies! (I won)


YES! I did it. I was at Remington Park with my good friend Niki and her husband Eric last Friday and while Eric rummaged around the casino floor looking for the right slots to play, Niki and I ran straight to the ponies. Actually the quarter horses were running Friday night, and it was a lot of fun. We didn't know what the heck we were doing, so the first two races we just sat in our padded leather seats drinking wine and staring both out the window where we could see the live action, and at the t.v. monitors in front of us so we could see it in a medium we were both more familiar with. Having only been to a few races it still sort of boggles my mind that in just 300 yards the game is over! (16.8 seconds or so if you're into quarter horse racing)

You should have seen us, well me...I was the one screaming like I was at an OU football game. You'd think one of the horses was quarterback Sam Bradford, and I was standing up shouting at him to throw the ball...throw the ball...NOW! Only this time it was RUN! RUN!...of course they're running Jude, they're horses and they're in a race! Running is what they do....suppose it would have been counteractive to scream out STOP STOP! Which is what I wanted to yell at the horses that were beating the pants off of my very first ever bet - I bet $5 on a beautiful horse named "Flashin' the Boys" ONLY because he was being ridden by a girl jockey (Debbie A. Freeman) I wanted to be the supportive fan....She and Flashin' the Boys came in dead last...STOP STOP!!! That's what I wanted to yell, but I didn't.

So, the next several races Niki and I had a plan. It was a good plan too. We have found the way to beat the system...not hard if you think about it. We're not numbers geniuses or anything, we just cover the spread by betting on every horse. No, just kidding - we didn't do that. I bet on one, Niki bet on one and when we won we just split the pot. That was the best way to beat the odds and still have some play in the game as well. Seven horses ran, we bet on two, picked a high and a low horse to be sure and get the better money if possible - but in both subsequent races my horse won (being the favored) and we split the $30.00 which means we were up! It's always best to leave when you're up, so we threw air kisses to the jockeys, thanking them for dinner essentially, and set off to find Eric.

Eric, who has always been a lucky man (got Niki didn't he?) was sitting at the same slot machine he was playing before we left, and he was up over $140 in nickels. We thought our $30 was cool and he's blowing us away by pressing a button over and over again...well, he can't stand up and express himself like we did, and he wasn't sitting on fine Italian leather seats either. He didn't have a glass of wine called "Fat Ass Cab" in his hand, and NO, he wasn't almost getting into a fist-to-cuff fight with a large cowboy type who told Niki and I that we were sitting in his seat - as if. A gentleman would have tipped his hat; apparently this man was from out of town. We let him have his seat, and that's when we ordered the FAT ASS CAB wine in his honor...we ordered him one too, and made sure the waitress told him what the name of the wine was and who it was from. (We could kiss the jockeys for that as well, since we were winners!) LOL

We're going back.

Why Do I Bother To Plan Anything?

I have no idea what gets into me when I think I should, or even could, have a thought about planning something that might be fun or exciting for me. I have kids. When I was growing up it never dawned on me that my own mother may have plans, I know I had to be the first of us four to change whatever it was that she was thinking of doing. So, why would I think differently today about my own free time? Please...I should have some sort of a rewind button so I could see exactly how bad my Karma is from back in the day so I could at least plan on not being able to plan anything for quite some time.

I was suppose to go to Florida at the end of February. That didn't happen. I was suppose to go to Turkey yesterday - Turkey! That was a big thing to plan too, let me tell you. However, it was God that thwarted that one; you know the term "Act of God". The weather was a bit cold, lower than 45 degrees, and the airlines won't board my dog Faith onto cargo if it's lower than 45 or higher than 85. Of course, there is a way to get around that one her in the cabin! I'm just saying. You get what you pay for in most cases. Nevertheless, we didn't get to go to Turkey, so the temptation to plan something came pretty naturally for me - - only to be smashed to the ground by children who simply HAD to have the car, HAD to go to their friends, HAD to go to the Zoo at this EXACT minute.....I haven't had a single "ME" minute all day.

I shouldn't pout about it - I can always WALK to Starbucks. I may do that. I may just pop the laundry in the washer, load the dishwasher, vacuum the living room floor, dust the cabinets and such, and then WALK my happy butt over to the local coffee house where I'm sure there will be someone to talk to. Probably my man Jeremy! (At least I think that's his name. We have been talking over a year now. I'm rather embarrassed to say I only THINK his name is Jeremy.) He's an actor and a playwright too - besides being a great barista. Love his face! He gives great face...don't you think? I think they call that "character". He's got it. Actually, at my personal Starbucks we have 4 aspiring actors, a couple of semi-professional singers, a dancer and a gal that plays the flute in a college there! We have talent all around us. Maybe I can PLAN on going to see a few of my baristas in action from the other side the counter some time.

Reuben called me last night from Alaska. He had planned to hang out with, or at least get a picture of himself with the new quarterback - - having replaced the great Brett Favre. (Oh, and speaking of planning, what's up with not planning to spell your name correctly Mr. Favre? Shouldn't it be FARVE? Am I wrong? Just kidding. We love you.) pictures with Aaron, which sucks. Duty calls and the boy has to run 12 miles or something today. Something to do with Army regulations - you have to shoot the bad guys, tackle your SGT whose pretending to be the enemy. Couldn't Aaron and the other Green Bay Packers who are visiting Ft. Wainwright join in? I mean, hand Aaron a grenade and see if he can lob it say 60-70 yards but PLEASE....NO SON, do not go out for wide receiver at that point! NO..refrain. ("I'll get it Mom, watch this?") I don't think so.

Nope. Planning is for the birds. They make their way to and from Oklahoma every year, so do the migrating bugs and periodical flowers - they've got great timing and plan to show up next year at the same time doing the same thing. What's so hard about it? Why can't I just get in the car and go to the damn spa to have a massage every once in a while? I remember...Caity and Laura, of course. SIGH.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Laine Ciotti, Author Friend and Pyrate!

I have just met my new friend. I can't say she's going to be my best friend because Jeanie would become oh so jealous after over 30 years of all the antics, gossip, bitch-slapping, and shopping the two of us have done. However, I have nearly met my match when it comes to producing silly little stories to make you blush. It happened at a Starbucks near my home and I can't say that I would have had it any other way. She and I were nearly forced to sit beside each other due to a convention at the hotel situated directly across the street. When we were settled I found myself on the end of a conversation that I normally pursue. That's when it hit me. This woman is just like me, and you know what...I like her.

She and I began talking about what we do, what we like, why the two of us were even at a Starbucks at 10:40 in the morning when we should be at work. Shame on us for being writers anyway! We sleep late, we rarely show empathy for anyone who has to get up, shower, dress, eat, drive, and slave all day - and to make matters worse we laugh about it because somehow, by God's grace I'm sure, we escaped Corporate America and have both landed squarely into poverty, but with smiles on our faces, and the sound of clicking keyboard keys on a part time basis. I don't mind, and apparently Laine (pronounced Laney) doesn't mind either. We prefer it.

I guess because I saw her "M" with a little hook at the end necklace I drew the conclusion that she (like me) is a Scorpio woman. She is. Her birthday just days before mine, but alas, I am a few years older. She collects stories from around the world, as her father and her mother were both in the military and she was educated on the streets of nearly every European country from the time she could walk until 1984 when she moved to Dallas and married (too young in her opinion), but it started her journey into fantasy, into the mystic fields of writing erotica for not only her own pleasure, but for that of her new husband. He was killed in 1988, and she has remained single. Moving to Oklahoma may be in her future, but for now she resides on the wrong side of the Red River.

Interestingly, like me, she has decided to rekindle the thoughts and dreams of sharing our lives with another man (probably not the same one, wouldn't that be freaky? LOL) and it has helped me, I know it has, to be able to write out little stories of twists and turns, allowing my body to feel again, and my mind to stretch in a way that muscles need to be stretched so that when the time comes to allow myself to share myself again I will be able to. That's where the erotica comes in, and that's where the Pyrate smiles begin.

I invited my new friend to the same challenge that I often invite Niki and Jeanie to. The little word game that we play when we're bored and need something to do with all the pent up energies that women get after thinking about a man but not really having one. Writing can be so therapeutic, don't you think? Well, here's how it goes just in case you haven't read my blogs before. You give the girls (all the girls participating) 3 minutes and 3 minutes only to write out every thing and I MEAN EVERY THING they can imagine from sensual feelings to explicit acts of physical activities. After time is up, the girls (and me) exchange papers and use the other girl's words to create a story involving the person who wrote the notes and whomever we (the author of the story) choose to match her with. Sometimes we do this with an intentional blunder, often we match each other with an unknown suspect, and in Laine's case I placed her with Detective Mac Taylor of CSI-NY.

When all was said and done the one on top (so to speak) was certainly the good Detective. He managed to work hard, play equally hard, and maintain that half smile we all know and love him for, while Laine, also smiling I might add - decided to add the CBS blockbuster to her list of must see TV. I will admit, and I must admit, that when it comes to writing out detailed sensual feelings, feelings designed to not only stimulate the brain, but the hands and breath as well; Laine Ciotti will be a formidable ally and competitor. I welcome her future challenges with open eyes and breathless blushing.

Girls will be girls.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Love Potion Number 10

Do you remember the British (60's) song called "Love Potion #9?" This poor guy goes out to see a voodoo potion maker because he wants to be in love, or he wants the girl of his dreams to love him. He couldn't believe what he saw when he looked into the vial of mixture that he was suppose to drink, but drink it he did. He even broke the bottle as he dropped it, probably from the taste. Did it work? Of course it worked. He was seen kissing everything in sight..even a cop! I could do that - - as long as I had a really good excuse. I'd want the bottle intact so I could prove it. Well, get this: I was out on the internet today researching my new Wu-Yi tea. I was trying to make a comparison to the Gunpowder (Chinese) Green Tea that I've been drinking. Turns out there is a HOST of recipes for teas; even LOVE potions! Here, I copied it for you. This is verbatim:

"Love Potion Blend- Bring love to your surroundings by first honoring yourself, then direct your intention to that "special one you desire". This tea is an ancient recipe handed down through generations. The herbs are harvested during the full moon, when intention is greatest! They are then blended in a unique way, which draws out their exceptional powers to create a "potion" worth enjoying! Enjoy pink rose petals, lavender buds, mauira puama, ginger, red clover tops, elecampane, hibiscus and poppies! We catagorize this and other teas designed for love and romance in our Metaphsyical and/or Psycho-Metaphysical blends."

The herbs are harvested during the FULL MOON...of course they are. What better time to pick up a bunch of leaves, but in the dead of night! I would do that. I would, I would look at my watch and say "NOW! Pick them now!" in order to make sure that the full "intention" was properly harvested with the leaves themselves. Heaven forbid our love tea be harvested say around noon when everyone and their dog is out and about town paying bills, working on a project that has to meet the specific standards of one's boss...NO, MIDNIGHT...the Lover's Hour! LOL

I like the fact that these teas are categorized as psycho-metaphysical teas too. I usually find myself in a mystic evasive mood when I'm dancing around the fire sipping on hardcore Chinese green gunpowder (rolled) tea...I think that's tea, they told it it was tea...hey, are you guys trying something? That's my gunpowder tea right? Metaphysical...makes me think of gypsies, elves and little faeries doing their shimmering, sparkling, twinkling little foot-step dances on and about the dandelions just after the mist of the night dew has saturated my heart's mind...I swear, I was told it was tea. Let's dance.

OK...back to sitting upright in the office at the desk and typing out a blog or two. Nothing much more exciting going on in my life today other than taking the kids to work, buying pumpernickel for the fun of it, and challenging my dog Matrix to a licorice eating contest. I usually win. I think I'll...I think I'll..yeah, I think I'll go brew myself some tea.

Supplements - When and Where

To look at the corner of my kitchen, just to the left of my frig, you're going to find a little stand with about 20 different little bottles all claiming that their contents are perfect! My name is Jude (she says as she stands up) and I am a supplement addict.

It started when I was little and I used to steal from my mom's Ayds canister. I don't know if you remember Ayds or not, but they were little chocolate chews that had calcium and some sort of a weight management supplement that I'm sure didn't actually affect me at the age of 6 because I ran most of my food off going from creek to creek and climbing trees. I still actually find time to hang out in the branches and I will from time to time hide near a river front to get away from my children. Not lying, it's true, but it has NOTHING to do with the subject of this blog, so I'll move on.

The bottles contain vitamins and minerals mostly. I'll rattle them off and you can decide for yourself what you think. E-mail me and tell me to stop taking one or the other if you think I don't need it. I've talked to several people and get all sorts of answers - - you're welcome to help me. I do take suggestions.

First there's Vitamin E. 400 units of whatever it is that is being counted. I believe it helps the cells in my skin to rejuvenate and since I like my skin for the most part, I'm sticking to it.

Vitamins B-6 and B-12. Some people get them in a complex I get them separately and take too much of one or the other I'm told, but the concept behind it is to spring your memory into gear, and to give you more energy. I could use both, so I overload. I'm told I'll waste what I don't need, but since I'm rather stupid at times I'm thinking it's the energy portion that will be flushed.

Biotin! Oh, you gotta love Biotin. It strengthens your nails and your hair at the same time. Not joking, this one is a keeper.

Vitamin C...say no more, but I don't swallow this one. I chew it. It's massive, and I've been cold free for years. Besides, it reminds me of my mother screaming at me to get off the house and come down to take my I do. kicked me once,but I changed doses and only take it in the morning to boost the metabolism. So far, so good....but I am very careful with this one folks.

5-HTP:(With St. John's Wort) Great mood enhancer. How good? I don't really care..that's how good it is. I'm smiling and I don't do actual drugs, so this pill and several cups of coffee and tea a day should make my face happy. If I don't seem to care what's going on around me most of the time, blame the 5 HTP, not me. I actually would care if I wasn't eating so much licorice; which is also a stress reducer. (Black, not red, that's for wussies)

Omega 3 Fish Oil. Wow..this one is HUGE, let me tell you. They took some fish and squeezed all of his guts out and stuffed the remaining oil into an inch long capsule and put about 1000 of these capsules into a little bottle and sold them for next to nothing. I take it because I was told to. If I don't I'll have to actually eat the fish to get the same joint assistance, and to be honest with you, I'm not really hip on fish..except a certain Pisces man with really cute fins.

Milk Thistle..doesn't that make you laugh? You can't milk a thistle! I'm part Scottish, I know this. You pull them up and whack people with them, but you don't milk one. I think it's for my digestion now that I don't have a gall bladder. I've only taken it about a month and I'm not sure I'm really seeing a difference, but again I was told to. I will listen to a doctor if he/she isn't too out there.

Multi-vitamin: Because.

Hoodia: Because I'm fat and it actually works to stop me from over eating. I do eat. I don't want the world to think I don't. I keep it around 1200-1500 calories a day and I make sure I do the brownies or the ice cream once a day or every other day because I'm not going to binge or kill myself with cravings.

Last but absolutely not least, the chocolate chewable calcium booster! YEAH.....again I suppose because it's what I need, but it does remind me of the years I snuck into Mom's closet and stole them from her. I put mine in a cabinet over the frig so Caity has to make an effort. There's no way I'm just going to hand them to her and say "Here, this is good for you." No, she needs the stealing from her mother effect. She needs the memory. This is a legacy people!

Oh, and I drink 80 ounces of water a day and pee 24/7, but it's all good. LOL Oh, I so totally lied to you. There's nothing to the left of my frig. Look to the right if you want to see the bottles. I don't know what I was thinking.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Tea for 30...(pounds)

We hear it all the time: Drink 8 glasses of 8 ounces of water daily, exercise 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes, get enough sleep, and you will lose weight. Well, it's true, you probably will - but there's more. There's always more. For instance: consider your age, your current weight, your goal weight, your ability to exercise, and above all - consult your doctor before doing anything you haven't been used to doing. It really is important. (I know this one, I lost my gall bladder over it.) Daily change is good, exercise is good, drinking 64 ounces of water a day is fantastic...but again, there's more, there's always more.

Years of drinking tea haven't helped me so much in the past. I wanted to know what made me think that THIS time things would be different. Why would I believe that the act of drinking a tea, even a special tea, would somehow help me (force my stubborn fat body) to lose these last 30 pounds. I'm just hoping it does. I've about reached the point where I will possibly consider other alternative measures - - hahahahaha, not really, I just said that for dramatic effect. I have no real alternative plans. I'm just going to keep drinking 60-80 ounces of water, more hot tea (morning, noon, and night) and that exercise thing. I have it down...I know my goal, I know my limits, I know my cup of tea. (That was suppose to be funny, a means of tying in the subject of this blog with my English major background.) LOL

Wu-Yi. The special blend of Chinese tea that every one swears will change my life forever; it will now get it's chance just like every other tea in my background. I've been drinking 2 or 3 cups of green tea on a daily basis for about a year but hey, if Wu-Yi wants to give it a go, I'm up for it. I have one rule: I get to use my honey rather than sugar, and if I feel like it - because I'm basically of English ancestry, I will use cream in my tea around the 3:00 hour, and I will eat lemon curd on my crumpet. I will, and I will smile. (low fat crumpet, no fat curd)

I'll give it 30 days. I'll give it the best fast shot out there. The way I figure it, if I can't lose say....10 pounds in 30 days I'll give it ONE MORE TRY, what the heck am I going to do? I have to get rid of it, tea and water works, exercising works, sleeping enough hours and eating the right foods works. I'll just keep doing it until I'm where I want to be - in my daughter's closet stealing her jeans. I can not wait until I am sneaking into her apartment and going through her things ... she's been telling me for a year now how she'll kick me if I so much as try on her clothes let alone borrow them. I have a goal....and it's sooooo satisfying.

Last week I went to PacSun with my kid and she bought a pair of Venice Skinny jeans, size 3 for the lighter colors, size 5 for the really dark ones. I didn't have the heart to even think about it at this point, but my dream-gears were going into overdrive. If I can do this, if I can really really do this, I can at least buy a size 7 and fake Laura out. I can make her THINK I'm wearing her jeans, and that's good enough for me. (I have something Laura doesn't have...something nothing is going to change, not diet, not exercise...I have bones that simply won't reduce. I am a hippy woman. Some days more hippy than others.)

All I need now is a concoction that can shrink my loose skin, reduce my spider veins, do away with my laugh lines, remove my little moles, shave my legs - Wow...can it be that bad? Hahahahaha...I highly doubt that there's anything out there that I can drink to do all that. I'm just going to have to love me the way I am (after I lose the weight...LOL)

I Knew I Liked This Guy For Some Reason.

I am quite sure now that I finally have the definitive reasoning behind why I love this man, albeit the title of the blog claimed only that I like him; sorry - my bad.

I have personally visited 393 separate Starbucks to date, and this number does not include the little kiosks in hotels, the libraries and/or universities that have a little side cafe with a sign stating that they "Proudly serve Starbucks coffee". It does not include the airport Starbucks or any other form of Starbucks other than a numbered store with business cards of managers to go with the receipt of the coffee I have purchased and have personally sat down and enjoyed while visiting that particular Starbucks. OH, I'm laughing myself silly at this point because the whole world believed me to be obsessed with Sinise - HELLO...I'm obsessed with something entirely hot, yes..tall, strong, full bodied, slow brewed but quick started...yes. OK, and yes, I prefer the Italian blend to any other out there - but my obsession it just simply not with Sinise. (That would be silly)

There he is, pretty and perky - - and at my favorite hangout. It's been said by more than one, that if you (general public) just go to as many Starbucks as you can you're bound to run into me. I have a store locator and I know how to use it. If I'm going to be anywhere (Istanbul), and I mean anywhere, I will look up the nearest store. I will actually choose to buy a house or condo, rent an apartment, or visit a particular hospital, school, or military base ONLY if it has adequate access to a local Starbucks...ask Pat McGee of Ft. Lewis. I don't charge the military to host Faith and I, but I do expect to be given an honorarium Grande Quad Shot Wet Cappuccino. I very much expect that much - not too much to ask, I don't believe so.

Now, given the fact that I would prefer to keep the company of a relatively tall, dark, somewhat bold, steaming hot, satisfying Sinise, oops, cup of coffee in the morning, afternoon, and evening - should tell you something about me; staying up all night really isn't a problem. I own an espresso machine - - I don't need the stores to be open for me and my Italian to celebrate at all hours. I think I'm basically in control of my obsession(s) least I smile - - a lot.