The Road to Farley

The Road to Farley

Sunday, January 30, 2011

What's Makes a Monday Morning Worse?

As if going back to work on a cold January morning from a weekend that went too quickly isn't dreadful enough, now I have to face this weather forecast:

...Major winter winter storm with heavy snow and blowing snow to impact the region tuesday afternoon into late wednesday afternoon... This will spread snow...Heavy at times...Along with strong winds and blowing across much of ...Iowa. Heavy snow accumulations are possible over the entire watch area.


See what I'm saying? How can you be excited about something like this. I must say, however, that the upside to this winter has been that I am not responsible for shoveling snow! Woot!! After living in what came to be known as the "flood house" for nearly six years, I had forgotten this little hidden joy of condo living. Maybe I would anticipate a huge snow storm more if we got snow days at work. Those were the best days  when we were kids. They were nearly always the most perfect days to hit the slopes at Sundown.

I'm sure everyone will be abuzz tomorrow at work speculating on how much snow we'll get and whether we'll be able to make it to work on Tuesday,

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Water on the Knee

Remember the game "Operation" that we played as kids? If you blocked it out, it looked something like this:


Some days, I feel a lot like this sad sack. I feel I'm on the slippery slope of eventually needing a lot of new body parts. There are a few I'd really like to trade in for new ones, but I watched too many episodes of Nip/Tuck to go that route. I can just hear Drs. Troy and McNamara asking, "Carol, tell us what you don't like about yourself?"

Anyway, I digress. Back in October, I did a graceful fall off the bottom step into my basement. If judges had been present, I'm sure I would have been awarded an extra 3.1 for degree of difficulty. I was dressed in a skirt and tights on my way to my niece's bridal shower on a brisk, yet dreary-looking, Sunday morning. So, there I was, in a skirt, carrying a large gift bag filled with martini glasses and an assortment of vodka and mixers on my left hip and a large tumbler of coffee in my right hand. Miss last step, fall about 16" squarely onto my right knee, spill coffee into gift bag, knee bleeds through tights. Needless to say....I was not happy. Deep cleansing breaths....let it go. 

I hobbled around for a few weeks, things seemed to get better. Last week, I think I spent too much time on the couch on the MLK holiday, causing a knee flare up. Of course, the awfulizer in me has me ready for knee replacement, or at the very least an ACL tear. Nope, nothing that glamorous - patellofemoral pain syndrome, which--dumbed down--is pain in the knee cap. It took nearly 3 hours at the UI Sports Medicine clinic to get this diagnosis. Oh, and probably several hundred dollars. 

And the best part....basically the doctor said I should lose weight! WOW, you're kidding. I had no idea. Did you know that for every 10 pounds of weight it places 100 pounds of torque on your knees because of the "vector." OK...so I must have about 2 tons of torque hitting my knees. Think of the POWER.

My luck, I'll have wrenched ankle next.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Happy Birthday Katie Anthony, Happy Birthday to You!

One of my besties celebrated her birthday today -- Happy Birthday Katie! We decided to go old school for dinner. My other bestie Liz and I took Katie and her hubby Caleb to the Ced-Rel Supper Club in Cedar Rapids. It was like stepping back in time -- red leather booths, a relish tray served with every dinner, and a menu filled with big steaks and fish. You'll find no food artfully arranged on a plate with drizzles of raspberry swirled around. You get your slab of meat on a plate with a potato of your choice served on a separate plate. Oh, and don't forget the bean pot.  What was absent was the smoky haze that likely filled the room 50 years ago. A little Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin as background music would have made it all complete. When Katie asked the hostess if they had Johnnie Walker Red, she gave her a look and said in a gravelly voice, "Yea, honey we got Johnnie Walker Red." Duh, Katie!

Katie and Caleb!

Katie and Liz

I would be remiss if I didn't give a shout out to the fabulous Miss Hillary, who is my niece's bestie. They are in Las Vegas celebrating Hillary's 21st birthday, which is also today. The last Facebook update I saw showed a stretch pink Hummer that was picking them up. Ahhhh, youth... We stuffed our faces and were at home and changed into stretchy pants by 9 p.m. Those kids probably hadn't even started the party by that time. 

Hillary and I on New Year's Eve

Make no mistake...I have some fabulous people in my life!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I tried...

Well, I made it a full 10 days of my "365" blog before missing a beat. Sure, I can come up with lots of reasons why I went missing on Tuesday and Wednesday, but the truth is I just didn't make the time. I had moments where I was going to post something for the day, but I was out of my usual rhythm. I was in Lawrence, Kansas the past two days for work. 

This is what I dislike about traveling for work:
  • I miss Bailey. 
  • I eat too much. 
  • I never make the effort to work out. 
  • I stay up too late at night catching up on my "normal" work because the day was filled doing "other" work that was related to the business travel. 
  • I dislike crowded airports, crowded airplanes, and small airplane seats. 
Fortunately, for this trip, at least, I didn't have to contend with the air travel issues because you can't really fly from Iowa City to Lawrence. So, instead, you endure a 10+ hour round trip to get there and back. Today was not bad, but when we left on Tuesday it was a little dicey until we got to Missouri. 
I wish I could have clicked my heals and said "There's no place like home" and then -- poof -- not been in Kansas anymore.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Have We Turned a Corner?

As I left for work this morning at 6:45 a.m., I tried to convince myself that it was imperceptibly lighter than it had been at this same time on Friday. I could see the rays of sunlight edging slightly over the eastern horizon. I googled for the exact sunrise times for Friday and today. Well, that was disappointing, there was like 1 second difference. But, hey, I said it was imperceptible, didn't I?

In case anyone besides me is interested in this useless trivia, in one month we will have 56 more minutes of daylight, and in six months we will 5 hours and 43 minutes more daylight than we did today. Hello July! I'll be ready for one of my favorite pastimes...cruising on the river. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Dogs Dogs Dogs

A couple of days ago, I went on and on about how much I love chocolate/sweets. One of my other loves is dogs. And, most specifically, I love me a good herding dog. This affection started when I was just a wee one, still in diapers. Here I am with Dusty, one of our first Collies. 


Then came Goldie. She still reigns supreme as the #1 Collie when we were growing up. I think I was 6 when she came on the scene as a puppy. She truly was one of the family. She particularly loved going for boat rides with us on our many Sundays at our Grandma's cottage at Lake Delhi. (Lake Delhi...well, that's a story for another day.)



Lassie was popular on TV around this time. At one point, my mom stopped letting me watch it because I would cry and cry at every episode. That's remained constant...I have copies of Lassie Come Home and a collection of the best Lassie episodes. Yep, you guessed it. They still make me cry. From the original Lassie Come Home with a young Elizabeth Taylor and Roddy McDowell to the remake The Magic of Lassie with Jimmy Stewart. Break out the tissues, I'm going to get the ugly cry. When it comes to any dog story, I'm a wreck. I was physically exhausted from crying when I walked out of the theater after Eight Below. And, don't even get me started on My Dog Skip. Have you seen those recent ASPCA commercials with Willie Nelson singing in the background? 

Maybe I didn't treat you
Quite as good as I should have
Maybe I didn't love you
Quite as often as I could have 

I seriously have to change the channel. I can't take the pressure! Sweet Goldie was with us until I was a freshman in high school. I remember the morning we woke and found that she had died during the night. I went to school and told my cousin Mary Pat that she was gone, and we both burst into tears. Of course, a classmate misunderstood what we were crying about and she thought one of my brothers had died. Whoops....this is how rumors get started. 

Whimps came on the scene when I was in junior high. My dad, sister, and I were coming home from the Dubuque County Fair, and we stopped at a farmer's house on the way. They had a litter of mixed breed Shelties. Well, needless to say, we didn't leave the farmer's house without one. You see, as much as my dad might claim to not like dogs, he loves them as much as the rest of us. We always thought of Whimps as part Sheltie/part Fox. She was very spirited, but her fear of thunderstorms caused her to go a little wacko in her later years. The garage door at my parents' house still bears the evidence of her neuroses.


There was also an incident with Whimps where the groomer in Dubuque "lost" her, and she was missing in Dubuque for almost three days. We thought she was a goner, but my brother Dave drove around the area where she was lost a final time and when Whimps heard the truck backfire when he shifted, she came on the dead run out of a cornfield. It was practically like a remake of Lassie Come Home. Yep, I bawled when he brought her home. 

Bandit was the next most memorable Collies we had. She disliked any adults who were not "in the family." She literally would try to take down anyone who dared to enter the house. But, she was completely gentle and protective of the little kids. 


We don't know what happened to Bandit. We lost custody of her in a divorce. So, then came Lucky. Now, here was another dog that was full of personality. 


Lucky considered herself a lapdog. This one time, I was trying to place a catalog order over the phone, and Lucky ran into the room and did a flying leap onto my lap. Well, when 80 pounds of dog hits you, it's not exactly graceful. I think the poor woman on the other end of the phone thought I was being assaulted until I assured her it was just my dog. Lucky was also afraid of storms. We lost her the day my parents drove to O'Hare to pick me up from a trip I had taken to China to visit friends. A thunderstorm came up while they were gone, and she dug her way under the fence in the backyard to get out and was hit by a car. That was not how I wanted to end my vacation.  :-(

Lucky was survived by Mac (her "husband") and her daughter Maggie. They were around for a good long life. 
Jack joined the crew later. He was a Christmas present for our dad one year. After I adopted Bailey, I also convinced mom and dad to adopt Louie (another Sheltie), who had been surrendered to the shelter with Bailey. Here's a big family photo, which also includes Kelly (my brother's family's Border Collie), and Lexi (another brother's Golden Retriever) and Rusty (same brother's Yellow Lab).


After losing Mac, Maggie, and Louie in fairly close succession to old age, we got our sweet Annie. Another dog that Raymond "didn't like." Sure, Raymond....


We lost Annie way too soon. When she was just six months old, the vet determined that she had deformed kidneys and wasn't expected to live more than six more months. We had her for two more years. She lived as good of a life that a dog could possibly live in her two and a half short years. Annie was an expert food thief. She would circle the dining room table like a shark (queue up the Jaws theme here) and would find the weakest link. In the blink of an eye, she could snatch a piece of pizza, a whole sandwich, a piece of steak right out of your hands or off your plate before you knew what hit you. I think everyone in our family fell victim to her cunning ways at one point or another. I still miss that sweet girl. 

Through good karma, I think, we found our lovely Lucy at a shelter in Kankakee, Illinois. She was bought as a puppy by a family with two young daughters. Sadly, one of the girls developed a severe allergy to her that could not be controlled through medication or other means of keeping her away from Lucy. She had such a bad reaction that at one point the girl had to be airlifted to a hospital in Chicago. The family then made the hard decision that they could not keep Lucy. So, what was sad for them was good for us. Pearl, Jack, and I made the 9 hour round-trip to Kankakee to scoop her up, and she's been giving us laughs ever since. She, too, thinks she is a lapdog. I know I shouldn't promote these "bad doggie" behaviors, but I love to hug her. 


There were other dogs over the years (Angel, Duffy, Tippi, Murphy, Bart), but the dogs shown here were our "Top Dogs" in my mind. A few years ago, I gave my mom (the other dog lover in the family) a photo album with pictures of all our dogs over the years. At the front of it, I placed this poem that I had found. This is me, too, as I will also "Grow Old With Dogs."

When I am old...
I will wear soft gray sweatshirts and a bandanna over my silver hair,
and I will spend my social security checks on wine and my dogs.
I will sit in my house on my well-worn chair and listen to my dogs' breathing.
 
I will sneak out in the middle of a warm summer night and take my dogs for a run, 
if my old bones will allow.

When people come to call, I will smile and nod as I show them my dogs,
and talk of them and about them......
the ones so beloved of the past and the ones so beloved of today.

I will still work hard cleaning after them, mopping, washing, brushing, and feeding them,
and whispering their names in a soft loving way.
I will be an embarrassment to all, especially my family,
who have not yet found the peace in being free to have dogs as your best friends.

These friends who always wait, at any hour, for your footfall,
and eagerly jump to their feet out of a sound sleep, to greet you as if you are a God.
With warm eyes full of adoring love and hope that you will always stay, 
I'll hug their big strong necks.
I'll kiss their dear sweet heads,
and whisper in their very special company.
 
I look in the mirror
and see I am getting old.
This is the kind of person I am,
and have always been.
Loving dogs is easy,
They are part of me.
 
Please accept me for who I am.
My dogs appreciate my presence in their lives;
they love my presence in their lives.
When I am old this will be important to me.
You will understand when you are old....
if you have dogs to love too.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I Love Saturdays With Nothing To Do

Today was a nearly perfect lazy Saturday, and I didn't even hit the Bailey's this morning. Bailey (the dog -- not the booze) woke me up at the usual 5 a.m.; however, after a brief spin around the block we were soon snuggled back in bed. To my surprise, she didn't really pester me to get up until almost 9:30. That's unheard of! But, who can resist this cute face pawing at you? 


After my yoga workout and a short nap on the couch, I did a little cleaning and got all my laundry done. I kept up with the breaking news story of the shooting of U.S. Representative Giffords and others in Tuscon. What is wrong with our country? 

My main focus today was my dire need for a new computer. I've been using a vintage 2003 Gateway PC that I inherited from my sister. This relic is running a 2002 version of XP and has a mere 256 MB of RAM. I can't even open most video clips. Everything I do, just about, is somehow done via computer so getting some new technology is dire. I remember clearly the very first computer I bought. It was 1991, and I was working at the University of Dubuque. I could get a discount on an IBM computer. Even with the "educator" discount, I paid over $2,000. Compared to today's technology, it was bare bones. It had Windows 3.1 on it, and my word processing software was Word Perfect. Remember Lotus 123? I remember being very excited to buy a software program that let you map trips. This was long before Mapquest or Google maps. 

This got me to thinking about all the other innovations that I have witnessed in my (ahem -- short) lifetime. Today alone I used:
  • A microwave to heat up my coffee. I think we got our first microwave when I was in 7th grade. It was huge, and I courageously attempted many of the recipes in the free cookbook that was provided. It wasn't until years later that I realized they really were just meant to re-heat things. 
  • A home theater (DVD) system to play my yoga DVD. No more vinyl albums with Jane Fonda's workout. Does anyone else remember that if you jumped around too much the record would skip? 
  • An iPod to listen to any of the 1,300 songs I've loaded onto it, played via my Bose docking station. (superb sound), and it will play for hours without having to do a thing. Of course, my old 8-track tapes would play forever too, but you always knew when it switched to the next track because it made that clunky noise. 
  • My PC to balance my checkbook, pay bills online, network with friends, read breaking news, track my Weight Watchers points, catch up on celebrity gossip, and write on this blog. (Could any of us even imagined what the heck a blog was 30 years ago? Shoot, even 10 years ago?)
  • My cell phone to talk to friends. I got my first cell phone in 1992 when I was taking a big road trip to visit friends in Pittsburgh, PA; Atlanta, GA; Dallas, TX; and Fort Smith, AR. It was a bag phone that had to be plugged into the cigarette lighter (remember those?), and I had to hook an antenna on the window. So, there was the cord plugging it in and the cord that connected the handset to the battery thingy in the bag and the cord  that connected to the antenna hooked to the window. It was very clumsy. If you weren't careful, you could have accidentally strangled yourself. Now, my little cell phone fits in my pocket and is the only phone I have. I got rid of my land line nearly 8 years ago. I am, however, still a bit behind the times. I haven't yet upgraded to a smart phone or even a phone that accepts e-mail. Baby steps...I'm notoriously slow to accept new technology. 
  • My ROKU. This is my newest acquisition, a Christmas gift from my parents. With it I can stream movies from Netflix, wirelessly, right onto my TV. Back in the day, we actually had to wait for movies to be released on network TV to see them again. 
  • My Dirt Devil bagless vacuum cleaner. Yes, yes, I covet a Dyson with a ball, but I have so many other wants that spending $400-$500 on a vacuum seems crazy. At least the Dirt Devil forces me to clean out the dirt and dog hair after each cleaning. I was notorious for keeping the same bag in the cleaner for MONTHS previously.
  • My stove with radiant heat cooktop. I much prefer a gas cooktop, but you work with what you got, right? I was raised with an electric stove with the old swirl type burners. Anytime something boiled over it created a lovely mess to clean up...with everything falling under the burner and onto the little metal pan that was under the burner...then they would get all crusty and corroded so that instead of actually trying to clean them, you just went and bought new ones. 
It kind of makes me excited to think about what will be invented in the next 40 years. Or maybe I am just a dork! 

Friday, January 7, 2011

1-7-11

I fell asleep on the couch at 7 p.m. tonight. At 8, I took Bailey out for the night, and we came upstairs to go to bed. Here it is 2 1/2 hours later, and I'm still sitting at the computer. I communicated with a friend via Facebook after someone posted a snarky comment on her wall that spending too much time on Facebook did not set a good example for her daughters. Those were fighting words to me because my friend is an amazing woman. She is beautiful and funny and smart and driven. Above all else, she is an amazing mother. It is at moments like this that I despise social networking. It is so easy for people to post insensitive comments without thinking of how they will be received. My friend admitted to me that the comment made her cry, and she wanted to close her Facebook account at that very moment. Another friend of mine had a similar reaction a few months back when she and her brother had "words" over a comment he had posted. 
I think it goes back to my thoughts about our "convenience store" mentality from a few days ago. We relish the 24x7 service afforded to us online without taking the time to really understand how our words might affect another person. 

While I was on Facebook tonight, I also read a story that was linked by another friend. It was a story about a young man, 27, who was a PhD student at Princeton, He died of an apparent suicide and left a long letter about how the domestic and sexual abuse he had suffered as a child shrouded him in darkness. It was a powerful and tragic story.

So much pain in the world -- from an insensitive post on Facebook to enduring sadness from a traumatic childhood. It sounds so cliche, but until you stand or walk in another's shoes you can never truly know them. 


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Chocolate

There is no denying it. I love chocolate. Well, maybe I should broaden that. I love sweets. I mean, I really really like them. This isn't all that surprising, my parents love them some sweets, too. I was watching an episode of Celebrity Rehab tonight and wondered if Dr. Drew could start a program for people addicted to sugar. Of course, the fact that Dr. Drew is kind of hot might have had something to do with it. My friend Sara bought me a box of Bochner Chocolates for my birthday. They are almost too pretty to eat. 


I was also playing with the settings on my camera tonight. This is my candy in "pastel." 


And sepia tones...



And black and white...


I'm going to share these and my leftover Betty Jane Candies Rumballs with my co-workers tomorrow when we go to Three Samurai for my post-birthday lunch. Good times.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What Does a Gas Station Have to do With Human Rights?


I stopped for gas today on my way home from lunch with my good friend Cassie. I snapped this photo with the intent of writing something humorous about how silly/weird/suggestive this name is for a convenience store. But, before I had a chance to upload the photo and jot down my musings for the day, I watched the documentary "Very Young Girls." 

Wow. After viewing this film, I didn't feel very humorous. In fact, it's hard for me to describe all the emotions I felt. I am not naive enough to think this wasn't happening, but hearing these young girls' stories was heartbreaking and inspiring all at the same time. As I sat on my couch in my cozy house, on an afternoon that I was getting paid for not being at work, I thought how lucky I was to have grown up in a nurturing environment with parents who instilled self-confidence in me. I simultaneously was thinking, really, how easy my life has been, and given the opportunities I have had over the years, that somehow I should be leaving a bigger mark on the world. 

As the girls featured in the documentary told their stories of broken homes, poverty, domestic abuse, drugs, and every bad thing you could imagine at age 13 or 14, I reflected on how vulnerable I felt at that age even with the love and support that I had. It is so easy to see how the girls get caught up in the life...searching for love and comfort from men they initially looked at protectors or father figures. But, that is their ploy, to gain the girls' trusts before prostituting them.

The movie also chronicles an amazing organization, Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS), founded by a woman who is also a survivor of sexual exploitation. This organization recognizes they cannot save every girl, but they share some amazing success stories. The spirits of these young women are phenomenal. To read more about the movie or the organization, you can click the link below.


So, what started as a day where I was feeling a bit mopey because my vacation would be over and tomorrow I would be going back to work ended with gratitude that I have a safe comfortable life here. Even my worse day ever would not compare to the stories of the girls in the movie. 

So, how does Kum & Go relate to human rights? I got to thinking that we have really turned into a convenience store society. We want instant service with little or no interaction. I won't even take advantage of the $0.06/gallon discount at the Hyvee gas station, because I would actually have to go into the store to pay. We don't want to take the time to look someone in the eye or to say hello. When former NY Giants football player Lawrence Taylor was arrested a few months back for statutory rape of a minor, I admit that I kind of felt bad for LT, like he was set up or just didn't know how old the girl was. But, today, I realize he *is* part of this huge problem that seemingly doesn't get the attention it deserves.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

1-4-11

Another vacation day for me. I could really get used to early retirement, if not for the tiny issue of money.  


Bailey and I took our first walk of the new year to Willow Creek Park. It looks rather cold and empty. Kind of like the house today after taking down all the Christmas decorations. I'm going to try and remember to take this same photo at the beginning of each month to show how the seasons mark the passage of time on our daily walks.

Today also marked my first Weight Watcher's meeting of 2011. Suffice it so say I've been on a feeding frenzy the past couple of weeks with Christmas, my niece's wedding, New Year's, and my birthday. Thankfully, since December 14, 2010, I only gained 1.8 pounds. I'll chalk that up as a success (sort of). 



Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me

A great 49th birthday! Pearl's pancakes for breakfast. Multiple naps. Martinis and dinner with my breakfast crew. 


In lieu of a birthday cake, Katie and I split the Oreo cheesecake. 


We also set our social calendar for the year. Lots of fun on the horizon: Madison, Chicago, Vegas, California, Vermont! I think it is going to be a good year. 

These lyrics have been on my mind the past few days, from the musical "Rent"
525,600 minutes, 525,000 moments so dear. 
525,600 minutes - how do you measure, measure a year? 
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee. 
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife. 
In 525,600 minutes - how do you measure a year in the life?

So, there it is...in 525,600 minutes I will be FIFTY years old. Wow...that is just weird to me. I used to think 50 year old people were REALLY old. Damn.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Timmy's birthday

Today is my brother Tim's birthday. As kids, we frequently had to celebrate our birthdays together since my birthday is tomorrow. As evidence...


Looks like this was the year he turned 8 and I turned 4. Something weird was going on with my bangs, and I'm not sure why I'm dressed in a summer shirt in the dead of winter. Dave (on the far right) looks particularly excited to be celebrating birthdays with us. About the only thing missing from this picture is June Cleaver...we look so dang wholesome.

Let's see, so if I was 4 in that picture, that means 45 years have gone by since it was taken. We look a little differently now.


And, I have to show a picture from tonight, with my favorite great-nephew Carter. He cracks us all up!


1-1-11

I'm already a day behind on the one thing I said I was going to do this year. One of my coworker's is an avid blogger, and I read on one of her posts a couple of months ago about her goal to complete a 365 blog, which meant she planned to take a photo and make a blog entry for every day of the year.

So, since 2011 is the year leading up to my next milestone birthday, I decided to try and do the same. Here it is 1-2-11. Well, suffice it to say that New Year's Eve and my niece Amanda's wedding had a little something to due with my excessive fatigue on New Year's Day.


This is my first look at daylight on Saturday, January 1, 2011, taken out the window from Room 433 at the Grand Harbor in Dubuque. I stumbled to the window and opened the curtains, thinking all the while "my head hurts...." 

This helps explain the hurting head - shots of Southern Comfort at midnight with Alex (the groom) and brother Jerry.


Here's to 2011 -- Cheers!!