Tag Archives: Happiness

Drive my car

Once again, I’ve managed to neglect my blog because I was busy doing cool stuff that I should have been blogging. If you’re still with me, thanks for hanging in there.

One of the cool things I’ve been doing lately is detailed over at my teaching blog, Foolish Wand-Waving. Hop over there if you’re interested in seeing the inexpensive stim tools I’ve been cobbling together from dollar-store materials.

Another cool thing I did recently was buy a new car. I wasn’t sure this was cool at first. I wanted to drive the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcar a million miles, but at 220,000, it landed in the shop with a mysterious engine problem, and school was about to start — so the day before the new semester began, I bought a Chevy Spark.

It’s not the Dreamcar, and it’s not a stick shift, but it has three redeeming features:

1. A CVT. Less fun than a stick, but optimal fuel economy.

2. A real-time mpg meter to facilitate hypermiling.

3. A trial subscription to Sirius XM, where I discovered there is an entire radio station devoted exclusively to the Beatles. Where has this been all my life?

The CVT and mileage meter are probably the main reasons I’m getting an average of 43.2 mpg (and climbing), but it can’t hurt that I am in zero hurry to arrive anywhere when I’m driving around with the Fab Four on the stereo.

Fine, Spark. You’re not the Dreamcar, but maybe I’ll love you. (Beep-beep’m … you know the rest.)

The third cool thing I did was start a free obedience class at Paws and Claws. Our first lesson was this morning. Seven dogs and their humans showed up, and Ramona happily served as my teaching assistant, demonstrating “heel,” “sit,” and “stay” as smoothly as the average Westminster champion.

I gave her a piece of bacon jerky when we got home, but I think the bigger treat for her was getting to see her old friends at the shelter. We adopted her almost a year ago, but she obviously remembered the volunteers who’d taken care of her when she was a puppy:

Woman cuddling an Australian shepherd mix
Ramona was delighted to see her old friends at the shelter.

I’m proud of Ramona. I knew she was going to be good at obedience, but she’s exceeded my wildest expectations. I suspect she’ll be able to go for walks without a leash before the winter is out.



Squiggly friend

Look at my new squiggly friend! I met him in the garden this afternoon.

Isn't he pretty? I think he's a garter snake.
Isn’t he pretty? I think he’s a garter snake. He’s about two feet long and about as big around as a penny.
I love his little red tongue.
I love his little red tongue.
I hope he likes slugs. I could use some help reducing the slug population.
I hope he likes slugs. I could use some help reducing the slug population.

I would like the record to show that I was a very good girl and did not try to pick up my slithery new friend or pet him, even though I really, really wanted to.

I showed my pictures to people at work today, but nobody there likes snakes. I don’t know why. I think he’s cute. I like his racing stripes and his pretty brown eyes and his flickery little tongue. I was pretty excited to find him in the garden, partly because I’ve never seen a snake in my yard before and partly because cold-blooded animals are a sure sign of spring.


Sunday Self-Care: Countdown to spring

“The one constant through all the years … has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past … . It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again.”

— Terence Mann, Field of Dreams

The 2016 World Series champion Chicago Cubs* have announced their spring-training reporting dates. Pitchers and catchers are due to arrive in Mesa on Feb. 14.

In other words: It’s 37 days to spring.

We are SO having Chicago-style hot dogs for lunch on Valentine’s Day. And probably either gooey butter cake or Ted Drewes’ Frozen Custard for dessert, because Ron’s Cardinals report the same day.

Spring is coming. I am at peace.


* I promise I won’t be insufferable about this, but I really never expected to utter that phrase. Let me have my moment. If history is any indicator, it may never happen again in my lifetime.

Sunday Self-Care: Overcoming intimidation

We live in a house that was built sometime during the 1920s. It has hardwood floors in the living and dining rooms — not laminate you put down over Masonite, but actual bare floorboards. They creak when you walk over them, which I’ve always regarded as a sort of safety feature: If anyone were fool enough to break in, the floorboards would telegraph his movements, making it impossible for him to sneak up on me.

Unfortunately, some of those floorboards got a little too creaky for their own good, and a couple of them developed splits that made them feel spongy underfoot. They were starting to worry me: What if somebody stepped on them wrong and went all the way through?

Predictably, the culprits were located directly over an area in the basement where somebody had nailed a big piece of sheet metal to the joists. I had no idea what was under that metal, why it was there, or what dire fate would ensue if I removed it to get to the spongy boards. And even if I could get to them, I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do with them.

I ignored the problem for weeks. It got worse and worse, until I finally gave up and asked Dad to come look at it and tell me what it needed. I was afraid I’d have to hire somebody to fix it, but Dad told me the mysterious metal was just the bottom of the cold-air return for my HVAC system, and I should simply pry it off, repair the floor from the underside, and put it back on when I was finished.

I was fine with that until I realized I’d have to work around water lines, cables, and conduits full of Romex to get the metal off. I worried about that all week, but there was no choice; if I didn’t fix the floor, we were liable to crash through it, which I really didn’t need.

I looked at it again Friday, came up with a workaround Ron agreed was a good one, and spent the balance of the weekend playing with power tools.

I’m sore, scratched, bruised, and tired, but I’m also relieved, happy, and kind of proud of myself. DIY projects make me feel grown-up. I’ll try to share the details of this one tomorrow.


A journalist looks at 40


NOTE: I know. I’ve been distracted. I’ll post an update on my projects eventually, but I have more important things to discuss at the moment.

I am 40 today.

I’ve wanted to be 40 since high school. My parents turned 40 when I was 16, and I always saw 40 as the dividing line between “kid” and “grownup.”

All I ever wanted in life was to be a grownup.

I suspect this is a side effect of being, for all intents and purposes, a child prodigy. (Nobody called me that, because my gift lay in journalism rather than, say, music or chess, but I don’t know what else you call a 10-year-old who writes like she’s 40. With or without the label, the fact remains that from the time I was in fifth grade, I wrote professional-quality newspaper articles, and the disparity between my skill level and my physical age created some tension as my clip file grew.)

No matter how well I wrote or how meticulously I took notes, adults continually talked down to me or assumed I was going to misquote them simply because I was young.

My senior year of high school, I got word Hillary Rodham Clinton would be speaking at a get-out-the-vote rally in Carbondale, and I talked the editor of my hometown weekly into letting me cover it. I participated in the presser afterwards, and when Ms. Clinton looked my 17-year-old self in the eye and talked to me in the same tone she’d used with all the adults around me, she earned my undying respect.

She also obliterated my patience with condescending adults.
If the most powerful woman in the free world didn’t have a problem with me, who the hell were these plebeians to question my credentials? If I were 40, I wouldn’t have to put up with this crap, I thought, and from that point forward, I looked forward to that magic age.

Over the years, well-meaning souls have smiled indulgently and assured me I wouldn’t be so excited about turning 40 when it actually happened. These people said the same thing about gray hair, bifocals and wrinkles. I suspect several of them also secretly thought I was just a little girl pretending to be Lois Lane when my byline started showing up in the local paper in 1985.

Their ageist rot was wrong then, and it is wrong now.

Today, for the first time in my life, I feel as if my mind and body are finally in sync. I cherish each gray hair I find, because I know it’s giving me the image of credibility I coveted in my teens and 20s. I get a kick out of looking at people over the lines in my trifocals, and I wouldn’t dream of Botoxing away the four decades’ worth of laughter that shows up at the corners of my eyes and mouth.

I am 40. I am happy. And I intend to stay that way for the rest of my life.

To hell with anybody who can’t handle it.