Thursday, December 29, 2011

Never, never, never, never give up!

The title of this post is actually a paraphrase of Winston Churchill's message in a speech to a graduating class in the 1940s.  Paraphrase or not, rather good advice in most cases, I believe.

I really have to come to dislike the idea of New Year resolutions; just like diets, somehow when I know I am restricted to doing something or more importantly, NOT doing something, I want nothing more than to rebel immediately if not sooner.  So, no resolutions for me.  Just a desire to wear out a pair of shoes.

I retired my first pair of running shoes this morning in favor of a shiny new pair.  It has once again been several days since I ran.  The plan to work out every day of Winter Break fell apart almost immediately as I got a stomach bug the first weekend that did linger on.  By the time I felt better, heck I was on vacation...who wants to exercise then? 

But with every glass of wine I have enjoyed and every sugar cookie I savored, something kept nagging at me...probably those 30 extra pounds I have been whining about for awhile now.  I even gave in and bought jeans I don't have to hold my breath to get into and sweaters that feel more comfortable on my chubby arms. 

BUT, that does NOT mean I have given up!  No, no! 

In fact, it is amazing how much more comfortable a run is in shoes that haven't completely broken down, and I have to say that though my old shoes were worn for more than just running, it felt pretty good to know that I have worn them out for workout purposes.  That suggests that over the last year I have done more productive things than sit on my couch. 

The new shoes will be just for running, and I look forward to seeing just how fast I can wear them out, actually.  My workout log tells me that since October of last year, I have run 128 miles in 89 workouts. 

And I have saved the old jeans.  I will be slithering back into those some day soon.  Oh yes, I will!

I will miss the Jiggle Butt Run this's next weekend and I am in no shape to tackle it right now.  But I think the Cowtown is in February.  Brian and I could run that one together. 

In any case, I shall be taking a cue from old Sir Winston.  Here goes nothing....

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cooking Bacon and Breaking the Rules

I am a rule follower by nature.  I teach middle school.  I married a cop.  I am early everywhere I go. 

Last night Brian and I had pancakes and bacon for dinner.   Brian took the pancake duty and I took the bacon.  He was trying out the new griddle he got for Christmas. 

Now, as Southerners we know that bacon strips are usually laid out in the pan one at a time, almost reverently.  But I have a friend who cooks her bacon just a little differently.  But then, Arlene does a lot of things differently. 

Arlene is originally from Baltimore and is a Jewish mother.  She loves shiny, sparkly earrings, the bigger the better and leopard print anything.  She loves you like her own, and makes sure you have plenty to eat at all times.  She loves to laugh and finds pleasure in life's little things.

And that brings me back to the bacon.  As a born again Southerner, she understands, despite her religion, that bacon is a staple in our diets.  Never one to be pressured by the rules, she even cooks her bacon with reckless abandon.

I first saw Arlene cook bacon for a house full of women one weekend at her lake house.  She dumped 4 lbs of it in a skillet, turned on the heat, and ootched it around with a spatula until it was perfectly cooked.  Who knew?  We all stood around the cook top mystified by this new way to perfect bacon. 

All my life I had watched it be laid out in single strips in the pan and lovingly tended to until done.  Now I see this rebel friend of mine throw the rules out the window and still create something wonderful.

So, as I stood there at the stove last night, I had a conflict.  Do I follow the rules and lay out the strips one by one, or do I just select the number of strips I want and toss them into the pan and see what happens? 

I took the road less traveled.  I took six strips and tossed them in the pan and ootched them around with my spatula until perfectly done.  And I took the strangest satisfaction from cooking my bacon "out of the box."

I couldn't help but smile to myself and look forward to the next time I can play with my food.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas

This is my favorite time of year, period. 

Everything and everyone is sparkly and shiny...houses are lit up brightly, Christmas trees peek from front windows.  I personally believe that if you use clear lights, it is permissible to leave them on the house all year long.  So happy and festive, don't you think?  Brian sensibly pointed out that the lights on the bushes would hinder trimming and what not, but really--how often do you have to trim bushes?

The music is happier and fortunately for me a local radio station starts playing it in Novemember, though I noticed that they started around Thanksgiving this time instead of mid-Novemember.  Might have been a deejay revolt.  All Christmas all the time for almost two months might be tough to take, no matter what they are paid.  I drove my students a little crazy with my Pandora Holiday, but at least I didn't start until December 1st.  They have already asked hopefully if I will be leaving up the Christmas lights I put up around the room past Christmas.  Uh, yeah!

I have decided that next year I am definitely wrapping some faux presents for under the tree.  The way the tree looks on Christmas morning with no wrapped gifts under it is a bit depressing.  Brian just laughs and shakes his head.  I started doing stockings for the fur-babies and Brian and me this year.  Next year, I may just add an Elf on the Shelf for us.  We may not have kids yet, but no reason why we can't have as much Christmas magic as possible around here.

Speaking of Christmas magic, despite the fact that both Brian and I were under the weather for the days leading up to Christmas, I did manage to make and decorate Christmas cookies this year, one goal I had this some baking.  I would still like to put a muffin basket together for the neighbors.  Maybe a New Year's gift.

I still didn't get to look at Christmas lights this year, though I am sure that not many people will have already taken theirs down if we went tonight.  That was something I loved as a child; my parents would take us out on Christmas Eve...probably to get us sleepy early so Santa could come. 

The only child I am really around now for Christmas (except for a fleeting few hours a week ago) is my nephew, Zachary.  On Christmas Eve we unwrap our gifts to each other.  His unrestrained joy at each gift was a sight to behold.  As he ripped the paper from each gift and he realized what was beneath the paper, he would yell, "I've always wanted this!"  He's five, remember.  Always is a long time, hee hee.   But it makes the gift giver feel pretty good to have his undying devotion because you have such excellent taste in toys.

I am becoming a whiz at hooking up new electronics.  Hooked up 3 dvd players yesterday and a new stereo.  Today I will be working on the surround sound.  The trick is to stay calm and not overthink it, I believe.

So now as Brian heads out to work, I must try to put the house back in order.  Place all the amazing gifts we received this year and clean since I finally feel well enough. 
I hope your Christmases were as wonderful as ours.  And think about what I said about clear lights. If we all band together, we could really start something...just sayin'.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Great Puppy Caper

My brother felt this one would make the blog...and he was right--just took me a few extra days than usual.

David, my little brother and I decided to present our parents with a puppy for Christmas.  They had two shelties until this spring...Sammy, only 7 years old, passed away unexpectedly.  So Libby has been the only fur-baby at their house for several months now...except when my brother's beagle visits.  Maggie is a Super Beagle.  She flies around the house and up and down furniture with the determination and agility rarely seen in a dog. She also loves to cuddle, and my mom has really loved that as her shadow is no longer here with her.  She threatened to steal Maggie from David, and David and I decided to present Mom with her own Super Beagle. 

Our dad wasn't keen on the idea, but as Mom said, If it's done, what can he do?  I'm not sure she believed we were actually serious when we posed the possibility to her, but she should know better by now.  Libby was her 30th wedding anniversary gift. 

David found a breeder in Forney, TX with the most photogenic pups I have ever seen and the price was right.  We found time on Saturday to fetch the dog for our parents. 

We had a small window of time.  We had to meet the man in Hillsboro (long side story, not important) and get back for a Christmas party at my house. We made it to Hillsboro without incident, though I was not feeling particularly well.  We contacted the breeder again to discover that he could not leave Forney until 3 pm.  It was 1:30 pm and we did have that party to get back to.  We could get to Forney from Hillsboro before he would even be leaving.

So we jumped in the truck and headed to Forney.  Meanwhile, I started feeling even worse...achy, hot flashes, waves of nausea.  And Brian was at home, minding the turkey I planned to serve as the main course at the party. 

In Forney, we met the man at the Wal-Mart.  As we waited we observed a few similar puppy transactions happening.  Tis the season.  When he took the sleepy little guy from the carrier in the back seat of his truck, I was sold immediately.  He was beautfiul.  Just nine weeks old.  David paid the man and away we went, Puppy wrapped in a blanket in my lap.

I was really struggling now.  I had eaten breakfast, but the knot in my stomach told me that eating anything else was not a good plan.  It was only about 40 minutes back to  my house, thankfully.

David gave me the puppy to keep until that night when we could present him to my parents.  I jumped out the truck, puppy in one hand, purse in the other.  As soon as I hit the ground, I knew I had about 30 seconds to get to the bathroom. 

I burst through the door, made it past my own curious dogs in a flash, slammed the bathroom door behind me so I could toss the beagle on the floor and fall in front of the toilet...nick of time. 

After I felt a little better, I took him in to show Brian who approved wholeheartedly. The dog is exquisite.

I laid in bed, wishing for death, for the next few hours until my parents arrived.  My mother's expression was worth the entire trip.  And my dad came around about 12 hours later.  Now he is my dad's best buddy and my mother's pride and joy.

Money and an afternoon well spent.

P.S.  They tried on several names (Nick, Boudreaux,) but settled on Beau.