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27 September 2008

Today, Well Yesterday, Really

Since it's 12:44 A.M., I shouldn't really refer to now as "today", but I haven't gone to bed yet, so it's still "today."

Work was the usual, except that I took 1.5 hours personal time this morning going over paperwork and looking for Alcoholics Anonymous meetings for the week. When I did go to work I pulled the Grand Prix out of the garage. Even though it needs work, driving it compares to nothing on the road in modern terms. It's fast, with a smooth ride and its just heaven.

Since I've exhausted the greeting card inventory at Inz-n-Outz looking for appropriate cards to send Cameron, I drove to Davis-Kidd Booksellers and found an ample supply of cards for encouragement, support and love. Afterwards, I stopped in at Baer's Den to talk to Jeremy for a few minutes.

It's now 7:49 P.M., Saturday, 27 September, and I'm finishing this post, so "today" is today.

After work I went to the gym for a pretty good workout. I then raced home, fed the dogs, showered and went to Holy Trinity Community Church for my first of many AA meetings. My counselor is recommending "90 meetings in 90 days," but I told her I have until October 21 to complete many of the tasks I've set out to before Cameron comes home. I'm not only cleaning house emotionally, I'm doing it literally. John helped me clear out the attic Wednesday and I'm working on collecting things from various rooms in the house for a yard sale on October 4.

After the meeting where I met some really nice, supportive folks, I drove to Schnucks and picked up some sushi and seaweed salad for dinner and some supplies for the next few days. I sat down in front of the TV for the first time in a while, watched the news and listened to the talking heads after the debate before I became bored with it and started channel surfing. Thankfully I found "What's up Doc?" playing on our local PBS station. I'd forgotten how much I liked the movie. It was a welcome diversion.

It's now Sunday morning, 28 September. And I'm still working on this post.

Yesterday, I woke up to a call from Cameron. He sounds so good. I tried not to cry and I assured him that my tears were ones of happiness. But, after not talking to him since Monday, 22 September, it was a relief to hear his voice. After a pot of coffee and a call from Cleo, I set out for Goodwill and dropped off three large bins of clothes and shoes, stopped at the Earth Complex recycling station in Cooper-Young and dumped a big box of magazines and junk mail, stopped at Homo Depot and picked up some wire grinding wheels for working on the 1953 Tappan, some double stick adhesive tape and some wood screws for transforming the bar into a secretary. This should be an easy task, since the bar is really an art deco English baking cabinet with a porcelain fold-out workspace and lots of cubbies and drawers.

After I returned home, I made an egg, cheese and ham sandwich on an English muffin for breakfast, even though it was noon. John arrived in the middle of making the thing, and I offered him one, but he wasn't hungry -- he'd eaten an entire bag of tater tots the night before and wasn't feeling too hot. Once I finished, we grabbed the chain saw and went out front and buzzed down the sixty-plus-year-old azaleas that were surrounding our seventy-plus-year-old oak tree. One had displayed signs of disease a month or two ago, and an arborist told me two years ago that I should keep them trimmed away from the tree so the base of it could dry out regularly or it would develop a fungus that would kill it. It was just time for a change and I want to preserve this tree. For now, it's so lovely seeing the magnificent trunk of the tree that I doubt anything will be planted around it in the future.

Cleo stopped by while we were finishing up the chain saw work. We decided that she'd clean the pool tomorrow (today) and she and John left. I got in the Pontiac and drove to BFE for dog food and to stop at Barnes and Noble to find the AA 12-step book. I stopped at Midtown Mini Mart on the way home for a carton of cigarettes for Cameron and lottery tickets. Once I was back home I heated up a bowl of Campbell's Select Harvest French Onion soup -- it was the first time I'd tried any of this new line of soups -- I really liked it.

I priced yard sale items for about four hours, intermittently looking up eBay auctions in preparation for some new listings I'll be posting on the auction site in the next day or so and finally stopped around 10:20, made some popcorn and settled in to watch Saturday Night Live. Billie and Georgia shared my popcorn. After it was gone I was still hungry, so I made a ham sandwich that I couldn't finish and fell asleep in the recliner without finishing SNL. I woke up and took the girls to bed with me at 4 o'clock in the morning.

It's now 9:49 A.M., and I'm about to put on my flip-flops and grab the chain saw to rid the front yard of what's left of the stumps. Then it's on to dog poop duty, mowing, weed-whacking, edging and then back in the house for laundry, vacuuming, and pricing more yard sale stuff.

Here's to hoping that the two or three readers of this so-called blog have an awesome, wonderful day.

Now is the right time.
-- Lotus Sutra

25 September 2008

Beginning to See the Light, One Day at a Time

This is an edited excerpt from an e-mail I sent to a dear friend today. This is all I can do right now to keep this excuse for a blog relevant for the time being, if it ever was...
"I started counseling yesterday and am working on having a standing appointment every day for the next month. The only day I can't see her is Fridays, when she's off. I plan to fill in with AA and church -- it helps ground me.

"Other than that I am extremely busy trying to get some long overdue things done around the house. John came over last night and helped me unload the attic -- the living room, dining room and hallway are filled with my job for tonight: sort for a yard sale (either on October 11 or 18), eBay sales, Goodwill or the trash. I still have to go through the rest of the house, but starting with the attic gives me space for the central air guys to work. Right now, the plan is for them to have the job completed the week before he comes home, but I'm trying to move it up a week (which they can accommodate).

"Aside from that, I am working on having storm windows installed and the hardwoods at least contracted for refinishing, I'm getting rid of the guest bedroom furniture (to John and David for a $100 donation to either Friends for Life or the Humane Society), buying workout equipment for that room, and if I were sure he'd be ok with it (and I think he is) I'd work on finding Edith a new home.

"I'm not overwhelmed, but I only have 26 days left and my schedule is hectic as hell (I got to work this morning at 9:45 :( ). I have counseling again today at 2. And in-between I still have to do laundry, mow the yard, clean the pool, shop, workout, and whatever else I can to whittle down off of my list. It's working. I'm getting a lot done.

"Plus, today is the fifth that I'm taking one at a time. No alcohol since Saturday. All the liquor is gone out of the house, the bar is dismantled and being transformed into a secretary/office/workspace for Cameron with a charging station and plenty of storage for whatever it is he needs. Now if I can figure out the best place for it I'll rocking and rolling.

"Thank you for your love and support. Thank you for sending him a note. I know he'll love hearing from you."
The last few days have been very difficult, promising, hopeful, uplifting, and optimistic. That's a good thing coming away from the previous 4 days of absolute hell. Remember that if you need healing not to cover it up with mood altering substances -- either through prescription or self-medication. If there is any hope for recovery it must be through introspection, analysis, and hard work. Using drugs or alcohol to mask or bury a problem only prolongs the inevitable. At some point, we must face our demons and the sooner we do it the more time we have left for a beautiful, loving, productive life.

Be the love you hope to receive.

19 September 2008

So Much For Sweet Sixteen

Without a lot of fanfare, Cameron and I celebrated our sixteenth anniversary at bowling Sunday, sharing three magnums of champagne and a toast with the league.

Since then, he's left the building. He moved into an extended stay hotel Thursday after checking into a hotel in the middle of the night Wednesday.

Since his diagnosis of Diabetes in January he's been on a few prescriptions, including what he calls a daily "happy pill" and another mood altering drug "for when he's really stressed." I think the drugs are affecting him in an adverse way. He's hyper all the time, he's lost 55 pounds and just doesn't stop. He's making me crazy because I can't get a moment's peace. He complains that I am spread too thin or that I take on too much, yet he is out talking to some small business owners about how I can help them with their advertising. He tells me to go to bed and get some rest, yet he stays up all night long waking me up every 45 minutes doing whatever he's doing.

He's gone on several junkets to Washington, D.C. and Detroit for business with AFA (his union) and NWA (his employer). Although he doesn't usually address the general public except from a microphone behind a wall during announcements on a plane, and he doesn't consider himself a public speaker, he's been standing in front of rooms filled with more than 200 people talking about the union, the company and the future of their jobs. This has been empowering to him. He told me he feels like a rock star. And I love that. But....

I feel like the Cameron I have loved for sixteen years is slipping away from me. The jury is still out. I want him to be successful. I want him to feel empowered. I want the best for him. But what he's doing scares the shit out of me -- for him, me, our relationship -- and our future.

15 September 2008

Kristen Wiig is Awesome

This is just too funny.

10 September 2008

Welcome Home. Hope You Enjoy the Smell of Cat Urine

When my sisters and brother orchestrated a meeting here to give Georgia a new home in Biloxi only to end up adopting her for ourselves we put Edith in the basement for her safety as well as the four boxers and six humans occupying the house that weekend. For some stupid reason, I left her down there for months. Actually, it wasn't a stupid reason. We had an infuriating incident here one evening that involved a house guest not following my orders about the animals, where I came home from work to find Georgia with a bloodied eye and Billie's outermost toenail on her left front paw nearly ripped out of her arm. I ended up spending six hours with both dogs at the emergency animal clinic that night. Afterward, I figured the best thing to do was keep them separate until I could figure out something else.

So, weeks into Georgia's Monday night training sessions I have decided to put Edith behind a child gate in the guest bedroom nobody uses which doubles as my dressing room. I put a new $189 LitterMaid self-cleaning litter box, a treehouse with scratching post (with some stupid stuff hanging from it with which she won't play) and a tray with her food and water in this room.

Our friend Russ suggested many, many years ago that we buy a LitterMaid. I wouldn't at the time because one of our boy cats, Gershwin, liked to stand and pee against the back of the cat box -- if there wasn't a cover on it he'd pee on the wall. But, now that we only have Edith I thought I'd give it a try. And, if I was going to go all out to make her comfortable after her four-month stint in the basement I would find the best litter I could. The LitterMaid requires clumping litter, the type I stopped using years ago because of the tracking problem. I would find the crap in some of the most undesirable places. The night we found it in our bed was the camel's backbreaking straw that put me back on Fresh Step traditional clay litter. FreshStep's pieces were larger so they didn't stick to tiny feline foot pads and end up sixty feet away in my bed. Plus, the odor control was matchless.



The Best. Ooh, I can't wait.



After some research and what promised an epiphany-like experience with the whole cat litter debacle, I bought The World's Best Cat Litter at our local Petco. I was hopeful. As I'd read, it's more expensive, but it's all natural and made from corn and is supposed to be superior in clumping and odor control. It even states on their site "How can any product call itself the 'World's Best?," and goes on to describe the three years of testing and such that allows them the claim.

"You see, our scientists made a major discovery: the highly absorbent proteins and fibers found naturally in corn actually bind cat urine and odor molecules in the litter. So, we developed a patented process that turns corn into a natural litter. It clumps better. It controls odors without the need for perfumes and scents. It’s flushable* and more sanitary. And it’s virtually dust-free, which helps eliminate tracking."

Bullshit.

Or, catshit, if you will. I am used to having people ask me in a surprised tone when they see Edith (or Ambrose and Gershwin in the past), "you have a cat?" This is because my house doesn't reflect the odor of a litter box. Unless she takes a really nasty dump. But now? Uh, it's very clear I have a cat. This is the worst litter product I have ever purchased.

The LitterMaid cleans the box within ten minutes of Edith leaving it, and puts the collected waste in a plastic bin with a carbon filter-fitted lid that contains the odors. So, either the "binding of urine and odor molecules" is failing or the clumping is failing -- allowing bits of the "bound" litter to remain in the pan and not in the collection receptacle. Oh, and did I mention that I'm having to vacuum the damned guest bedroom twice-a-day? Yep. The litter is everywhere. And, Edith isn't much for drama like some cats that will scratch the hell out of the litter slinging it all over the place before she uses the box. She is very discreet.

Suffice it to say, I will be going to our nearest pet retailer tomorrow and buying Fresh Step clumping litter and praying that the rubber mat I placed outside of the litter box collects anything that doesn't stick to Edith's feet since she ripped the carpet insert from the ramp the first day we had the LitterMaid.

And if that doesn't work, I'll go back to buy a new, domed Booda box, like the one I threw in the trash two weeks ago, and Fresh Step. Maybe I can clean the barely used LitterMaid with Nature's Miracle and sell it on eBay. Or, not. Dammit.

09 September 2008

I've Always Loved KFC, But I Guess I've Become One Among the Health Conscious Public

When I opened my Yahoo Mail this morning I saw a piece of Associated Press news from my beloved Louisville. Apparently Kentucky Fried Chicken is stepping up security around Colonel Harland Sanders' original recipe for the eleven herbs and spices that helped him launch his world-famous fried chicken chain in 1950. While the vault where the recipe is kept contains samples of the spices, the "prize" according to the article is the yellowed piece of notebook paper that Sanders recorded the recipe upon in pencil, in 1940. As a child I remember being scared of Colonel Sanders when he would appear in television commercials for the chain. He was a gruff, imposing character, and accounts then and in recent years of his stubbornness and exacting expectations cement the legend. There are tales of franchisees having their equipment taken from their restaurants if they didn't follow the strict guidelines he set forth.


The radio jingle used to sing "Bring home a bucket of chicken..."

In Sellersburg, where I grew up, the restaurant offerings were slim. Until I was in my teens, there was only Freda's, a greasy spoon with great food whose sign only read "EAT", The Wheel, which in our household was thought of more a bar than restaurant, Walk's Drug Store soda fountain, and the A & W drive in. So, it was a big deal when every so often my mother would take us to Clarksville to the closest KFC. Except for the mashed potatoes which tasted like instant, we loved their food. The clerks used to call my mom "the gravy lady". Back then KFC still sold chicken livers, so we'd get those, a "Thrift Box" of 9 pieces of fried chicken, slaw, baked beans, and a quart of gravy. At home, my mother would make mashed potatoes from scratch.


The Take Home Menu: simple, varied, and no stupid bowls or sausage snackers.

As an adult, I have eaten original recipe KFC every once in a while, but in the last five years during my attempts to reach my on-again-off-again fitness goals, I have rarely eaten there. Make no mistake, I miss the hell out of it. I love KFC chicken and their cole slaw. In fact, if I do go, I'll get a 2-piece all-white, no wing meal with two sides of slaw -- because I feel today the same way I did about the potatoes when my age was in single digits (they taste fake) -- and the location closest to work and home often undercooks the baked beans (white beans that haven't cooked long enough to absorb any color or flavor from the sauce in which they're swimming).

It's sad to think that back in 1940 when Sanders devised his recipe that things would have degraded to the point that I read a lot of disparaging remarks about KFC's treatment of the chickens they sell being inhumane. And reading what I do turns my stomach. But, I've done no research to verify any claims of chickens being boiled alive. I guess I will. And I'll probably post about it later.

"KFC had a total of 14,892 locations worldwide at the end of 2007. The chain has had strong sales overseas, especially in its fast-growing China market, but has struggled in the U.S. amid a more health-conscious public."— Associated Press

Photo Credits: SA_Steve, and Neato-Coolville.

05 September 2008

No Way. No How. No Palin.

I was awestruck with how Hillary delivered her speech last week. She proved once again why she has the poise and passion to be president. And I loved her "No Way. No How. No McCain" phrase. I have to reappropriate it here.

Sarah Palin scares the shit out of me. I have been bombarded with e-mails from all of the political action groups to which I belong for days since "some old white man" as Paris Hilton called him, announced her as his pick for Vice Presidential candidate. She's supported legislation for aerial killing of wolves and bears according to one source. I'm looking for more information about her and her record.

Following a link at MoveOn, I found this:

"Who is Sarah Palin? Here's some basic background:
  • She was elected Alaska's governor a little over a year and a half ago. Her previous office was mayor of Wasilla, a small town outside Anchorage.
  • Palin is strongly anti-choice, opposing abortion even in the case of rape or incest.
  • She supported right-wing extremist Pat Buchanan for president in 2000.
  • Palin thinks creationism should be taught in public schools.
  • She's doesn't think humans are the cause of climate change.
  • She's solidly in line with John McCain's "Big Oil first" energy policy. She's pushed hard for more oil drilling and says renewables won't be ready for years. She also sued the Bush administration for listing polar bears as a threatened species-she was worried it would interfere with more oil drilling in Alaska.

This is information the American people need to see. Please take a moment to forward this email to your friends and family."

How freaking out of touch can one be? Making a rape victim carry her assailant's spawn full-term? Are you kidding me? Pat Buchanan? Blurring the lines between Church and State? The last thing this country needs is another self-righteous nut job in the Executive Branch.

My mother forwarded a petition to me from People for the American Way where we're being asked to make it clear that Sarah Palin doesn't speak for us. The letter we're asked to sign states:

"Sarah Palin presents herself as speaking for mainstream Americans, but her stances — against reproductive choice, against equality for gays, against freedom of speech — are extreme."

And here's the petition letter they are asking us to sign:

"During her speech in St. Paul on Wednesday night, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin purported to speak for women, small town residents, and everyone who isn’t a member of the “Washington elite.

"Sarah Palin is an intelligent, well spoken woman, but it must be made clear:

"We don’t want a country in which women who are raped are refused the right to choose abortion.

"We don’t want a country in which religious dogma is taught in public school science class.

"We don’t want a country where gay and lesbian citizens are discriminated against.

"We don’t want a country where books are banned from public libraries.

"America is strongest when we are united, not divided. When our Constitutional liberties are respected. When our politicians rely on ideas and opinions instead of distortions and attacks. The challenges we face are too big to be reduced to name-calling.

"Sarah Palin doesn’t speak for us. "

If you agree with my mother and me, please go here and sign it.

04 September 2008

For You, Black Dog

I saw you last night as I was driving home. You were in the grassy median, just a block from my house, eating something that you'd just found. I considered stopping to try and coax you into the car, but I didn't know you, and, I was concerned about what I'd do with you once I had you in my backseat. You looked happy to be doing what you were. You appeared well-fed and seemed to know where you were so I decided to let you be. I asked God to take you home.

After I'd been home for ten minutes I was standing outside in the back yard, talking to Cameron and watching Billie and Georgia play. I heard a yelp. I told Cameron that I had to go check on you. I walked the direction to where I first saw you and thought perhaps it was one of the new neighbors' dogs I'd heard because you weren't there.

I saw Cameron talking to the one of the new neighbors a couple houses down from us. I assumed that he was introducing himself as he often does. I went inside to grab a neighbors' phone list to give the new guy but when I came out they were both gone.

I looked the other direction past the park and saw them. And you. You were lying lifeless on the pavement. My heart sank. We picked you up off of the street and placed you in the grass so you wouldn't be hit again. As I walked back home to call to have you picked up I thought "what if I'd stopped and picked you up?"

As it turns out, someone else had the same idea. Our new neighbor, Robert, saw the tragic scene unfold. A man had stopped to take you off the street to safety, but he scared you. So you ran. The driver in the first lane saw what was happening and stopped for you. Sadly, the driver in the right lane didn't.

Later in night, after we shed a few tears for you, Cameron walked the eight-or-so-hundred feet to you, to pick you up from the grass to carry you down the circle to put you on our porch, out of the rain. It just didn't seem fitting to leave you where you died. I'm sorry for you. I'm sorry for those who loved you. And even though we didn't know you, we loved you, too.

03 September 2008

Keep it Comin' Love

K.C. and the Sunshine Band is perenially featured in various disco compilations and seems to be a staple for "Polyester 100" weekends on our white-bread, tiresome Top-40 station here in Memphis. While I love disco/dance/trance/electronica, I've never been a fan of the overly-repetitive, not really talented musicians that make up K.C. and the Sunshine Band. Slam together some bass beats, come up with a one sentence lyric and repeat it, over and over and over and over = classic disco?

No. Not really.

But, I chose the title of this post from one of those tedious songs because it's an appropriate way to say, "thanks for voting for Doris on jonessoda.com."



Eighty votes later, her score is still 8.34. And for that, I thank all 80 of you. If you haven't voted, please do. If you have, please don't try to vote again. Jones Soda only allows one vote per IP address and if too many attempts are made from one address they'll pull the photo -- and we don't want that!

September 12

I'm still compiling images and notes for a "Labor Day weekend trip to Troy, Alabama" post, but in the meantime I'm posting about a couple movies due to hit theaters September 12.

First, there's The Women.



Cameron and I are such big fans of the 1939 version of the movie that I've really anticipated this remake. Understanding that doing an update would cause some significant differences from George Cukor's masterpiece because times have definitely changed, I only have high expectations for this one because of the cast.


The genuine article.

Casting, is what caught my eye for the next movie. In addition to this being another Coen Brothers film, it stars Frances McDormand, George Clooney, John Malkovich, and many others whom we've grown to appreciate.



Burn After Reading looks like another gem in the Coen Brothers vault. The trailer definitely drew me in. Read more about the movie here.

So, I expect us to be spending more time than usual in a darkened theater for the next two weeks, because we go Saturday to see Kathy Griffin at the Orpheum. And, while I don't expect the show to be as raucus as The Pink Flight, it'll be a blast for sure.


Read all about it at Advocate.com.