Hey!
I’m still around, a lot of life experiences happened over the past year.

I’m currently working on a redo of the site, and plan to start posting again next month.

So stay tuned.

Finally.
Don’t know what happened, but I haven’t been able to log in to my own site for a couple of months! Finally got it fixed.
Judging from some of the comments that slipped through, I think my site may have been hacked.
But I’m back now, baby, and hope to have new posts up starting next week.

Friday night, I dreamed I was at a convention with my friends when a special guest was announced.  Turns out, the “special guest” was the Bay City Rollers. The detail I remember most was disappointment that I didn’t bring my Tartan scarf. On my Facebook feed Saturday morning, someone I follow had linked to a YouTube video of their song, “Saturday Night”.  My Saturday morning transformed into a fest of Bay City Rollers videos. The five lads from Scotland once again graced my screen, made me forget everything else I should have been doing (dishes, laundry, writing), and threw me back into the mentality and memories of a preteen fan girl.

During junior high, the Bay City Rollers were it. Now many make fun of the outfits, the hair, the songs and the scarves, back then, they were big. Like Justin Bieber big. Screaming, fainting mobs of fan girls all over the world; even their own television show.  Those guys bear the sole responsibility for my fan girly-ness and creating my Anglophilia.  Even today, I prefer actors and singers who originate from the British Commonwealth rather than ones from the USA.  My favs were Les and Eric, and then Ian. Mom referred to them as the Chicken-Hair Band. She said, “Those haircuts look like a chicken’s been scratching in em!”  But she did let me get a similar haircut, and continued to give me money to buy their albums.

One friend, Kay, shared my Bay City Rollers obsession. It bonded us as friends for life. We would have marathon sleepover listening sessions. Their pin-ups adorned our walls. We read avidly about them in Tiger Beat. But more than anything, we had the pants. And scarves. We were true fans.

A trademark of the Rollers, especially in their early days, were shorter pants with wide legs that sported cuffs of tartan and a strip of matching tartan up the outside leg seam. No true Rollers fan would be seen without their long tartan scarf. My pants were red with yellow tartan. Mom helped me convert an older pair of pants and sew on the plaid fabric even as I knew how frivolous and tacky she thought it was.  My scarf was green.  Add a white shirt and I looked good.

Kay also had her personal Roller outfit, too.  We wore them proudly, in public. Kay, to this day, I’m insanely jealous of those awesome platform plaid shoes you owned!

Neither of us feels ashamed of our Rollers Days. The band makes our playlists, even if they’re not remembered much by “classic” music stations. Be honest. Who of a certain age group doesn’t feel the urge to dance when they hear “Saturday Night” or “Rock’n’Roll Love Letter”?  Time to ‘fess up, people!

One of the only regrets in my life stems from my Bay City Rollers fandom. Kay and I bought tickets to a concert, with our parents’ blessings. My parents giving me permission to plan this event was one of the most shocking moments of my life. It would’ve been the first concert I’d been allowed to attend.  Yep, would’ve. It didn’t happen.  Since neither of us was close to driving age, the excursion was dependent on someone willing to drive and chaperone us. A younger relative of Kay’s agreed to accompany us, but at the last moment, she was unable to do it. So it remained an unfulfilled dream.

I still have my ticket.  In a safe place.

My Boot Camp workout for the day was the Grocery Store Obstacle Course.

First, the parking lot demolition derby driving.  Dodge and cut off other drivers as you vie for that elusive closer than that one parking spot.  Survived that and even managed to nab a spot with a bit of shade. Prime real estate under the heat of the Texas sun.

Second task – the Cart Tug and Pull.  Carts are supposed to fit together for easy access. Somehow, I always choose the ones that are stuck together and require iron-man strength to pull one away from the row.  The arm and shoulder workout portion because it takes more than one try before said Cart is willing to be freed.

One approaches the first curve, leading to the deli and the first rest stop/heart rate check of the routine.   Does the deli ever not have a line? So we jog in place, doing the impatient shift from right foot to left, and repeat until our turn comes up.   Now, take off on the cardio set.  Push the cart fast as you can, weaving through the aisles, grabbing items from the shelf and tossing them into the cart with as little pause as possible.  The tricky part isn’t slinging your groceries into the cart without damage.  It’s all the obstacles in the path.  Avoid other shoppers and their carts, who will attempt to thwart you by strategies such as stopping suddenly without warning in middle of aisle; parking cart in front of item you need when they are shopping for item on the other side of aisle; or the infamous double-parked in the center of aisle.  Not to mention all the “aisle furniture” displays that divide or narrow each corridor.

So you’ve made it through produce, dry goods, canned food, bakery and meats.  You can see the final section – Dairy! Just a bit more to go.. Come on! You can make it!  You can beat your personal best of “Time Spent in the Grocery Store”!  But wait!  Someone is leisurely perusing the yogurt and the milk cartons are blocked by their cart!  Oh no, the enforced polite wait for stranger to move.  They move to the next brand of yogurt and READ EVERY LABEL…   It’s YOGURT.   Not much one can do to make yogurt different.  Just different flavors.   Aside: Why are there so many different flavors and brands of yogurt?  It’s one of the largest sections in the dairy department, almost as large as the cheese section.   It’s twice as large as the milk section.   Finally, the perpetrator moves on. You can grab that gallon (about a 5 lb. weight) and go!

Yes, the finishing straight is in sight! Find an aisle with no one puttering through it, and straight to the check out.  My favorite choice for the final sprint is the Seasonal Aisle. The only time of year it’s crowded is during Christmas holidays.  Or the days right before and right after Halloween.  Endure the final check out and bag slog.  Time for another quick breather and heart check. Remember to do the impatient shift jog so you stay warmed up and ready for the Strength Training session.

Here we go!  Put all your strength into the Cart Push.  Push that fully loaded cart out to your vehicle.  Plant those legs! Get your shoulder into it. Push! Push!  Lift the trunk (several repetitions are recommended for full workout effect).  Lift and curl those weights, I mean bags, into the car.  Now back in the car for a second round of Parking Lot Derby.  The goal – get those eggs home without cracking!

Back home. Good, but one more short section before we call it a day.  Can’t forget Strength Training for the legs! Gotta work those gams.   Do the Unload Walk and the Pantry Step Ladder Routine.  Look on the bright side! Your workout for the day is done and so is the grocery shopping, unloading and putting away.  Take a break.  Have coffee and chocolate. After all, you need a little time for you.

I keep promising all of you I will not neglect the blog.

Then real life blows up with the crazies, and the end result is I neglect the blog.

This time, I’ve neglected the blog all summer.  It was a crazy sort of summer.  Hotter than the proverbial hot place and shorter than we needed it to be.  Not that it seemed short, ours was short. Now that both girls are in marching band, our summer effectively ended with the start of summer band in July.  With only a month and a half and many things to accomplish, the summer was packed full.   The nice thing about having been so filled with adventures is that I have a lot of fodder for the blog, and it won’t need to sit quietly in its little corner of the interweb.

We combined vacation and college visits. Doing this gave us the freedom to head off into the wild frontier of Colorado and the Rocky Mountains.  One thing we didn’t mean to do was bring the Texas heat along with us, but it stowed away and followed us.  Colorado was burning hot this summer, literally not figuratively.  Which is a shame because it’s a place of glorious beauty.  And high altitudes that were not glorious but nausea inducing.  Altitude and I don’t play nicely together.

No matter how much I deny it or throw a tantrum about it, in about a month, I will be the parent of an 18-year-old daughter.  Who is a senior in high school.  Who will be starting college next fall.  Who will be considered an adult by the standards of our society.  Okay, chronologically, I am old enough to possibly have a child that old.  Heck, some people are grandparents at my age.  Like my sister, Min.  She’s four years older, and has eight grandchildren.  Okay, five of them came with Mr. Min, but she loves being a Grandma to them. In the past few years, her children have married and started their own families, so there’s three grandkids from our side of the family.   She loves it; she’s young enough to be the fun Grandma. I possess high hopes that I won’t reach the Grandma state for about another decade.  Maybe by then I’ll admit to having grown children, and I should still be young enough to be a fun Grandma.

Anyway, part of the summer was devoted to college visits.  I’ve lost count of how many we’ve done. She’s determined not to go to college in Texas, which means out-of-state tuition, which means she has to  apply for lots of scholarships.  She doesn’t have her goal set high; she only wants to be an astrophysicist.  When she drops that nugget of information on people, the most common response is a look of incredulity.   Not just that the statement implies a high level of intelligence, but also that Liz is blessed by the fact that she is a complete nerd/geek who looks and acts normal.  Over the years, I’ve learned to blend in and not let my geekyness show too much, but with Liz, it’s natural.  It’s a gift.  As a matter of fact, yes, she does want to be a rocket/space scientist.

So I come to this point in life, parent of a senior in high school and a freshman in high school, both in band and a couple of smartypants.  It may be a crazy, perplexed life, but it’s a blessed one too.

Two Weeks.

Two weeks remain in the school year. Two weeks till summer break begins. Two weeks of crazy busy. Two weeks when my younger one graduates middle school. Two weeks my older one becomes a high school senior. Two weeks I can stay in denial that I’m not really the middle-aged mother of two teenagers. Two weeks that I hope with all my being are nothing like last week. Last week ranks as the year’s worst week. Knocks on wood, tosses salt over the shoulder, avoids ladders.

Frustration

Next week, Hannah graduates middle school. It’s amazing she’s made it this far without failing a grade or any classes, or being proverbially “killed” by us or her teachers.  She’s a great student and has ended up on the honor roll every semester of every school year. She has won academic medals of honor and was a member this year of her school’s competitive academic team. At the same time, inspiring her to complete assignments, in and out of class, stay focused and on task, and turn in all her work for grades can be the most frustrating process on earth.

I discovered recently she had not turned in her registration for a required band event. I “discovered” this by finding the folded information sheets on the floor of our front room. The event was the Tuesday of the week; the registration had been due mid-April.  Honestly, I wasn’t happy that the band director had said nothing about it not being turned in, being a required event. Enlisting the assistance of her private lesson teacher, I had to arrange for all the pieces to be in place – getting in the registration, procuring an accompanist, things of that nature and all things that raise one’s frustration level sky-high. Even though this type of occurrence isn’t uncommon with my younger one, it still causes a high frustration level. Hannah has Asperger’s Syndrome, a mild form of autism.

“Aspies”, as they prefer to be termed, are extremely high-functioning with way above average to genius level intelligence. However, they are unable to read social cues or nonverbal language well, and usually possess a lack of organizing skills. If you’ve watched The Big Bang Theory, they’re the “Sheldons” and “Amys” of the world. They’re the kids described by labels such as “eccentric”; “marches to a different drum”; “dances to his/her own beat” and “a little weird”. Experts in the field believe many creative geniuses were Aspies: scientists like Albert Einstein and Nikola Tesla; composers like Mozart and artists like Andy Warhol. On tests, Hannah scores on a college level yet she doesn’t grasp things like the give and take of a “normal” conversation.  Part of her learning curve has been in the area of social skills. This is true of all Aspies.

When an Aspie is interested in a subject, they are driven to learn every detail their brain will hold.  And an Aspie’s brain can hold massive amounts of information on different subjects. Their idea of a conversation is to tell you in detail about one of their favorite topics. After about five minutes, most people think their brain is going to explode from the bombardment. Aspies are living, breathing encyclopedias. An Aspie’s sense of humor and jokes often aren’t understood by peers, but to another Aspie, it will be hilarious.

Studies have shown there is nothing physically wrong with the brains of Aspies. They are literally wired in a different way, and their processing works in a different way than “nypicals”, a term the Aspie community applies to normal-thinking (i.e. “socially acceptable”) people. Some people have problems dealing with a child who thinks and reacts in unexpected ways. Unfortunately, along our journey, many of those people have been teachers. On the flip side, some of the most helpful people on the journey also have been teachers. We will cherish and remember those people our entire lives. Aspies feel emotions intensely and if one can gain love and respect from an Aspie, they will work with all their energy to please that person. But they have to be approached on their world view; they can’t be changed to “normal” or stuffed into the “normal” box.

Yes, she can be frustratingly stubborn about getting her school work and chores completed. One recent assignment of a written front and back page took 5 hours. Yes, she doesn’t care about personal space or understand why it freaks you out when her face is two inches from yours. Yes, she’s touchy and feely, which also freaks out people in our society. Yes, she will talk at you until your ear falls off and your brain explodes into confetti. Yes, she reacts in ways you may not understand like laughing at sad moments and being sad at happy moments. But she also is friendly, out-going, loyal, loving and insightful at moments and in ways no nypical can be. If you judge her as a friend or a student by her challenges, you’ll miss what a rich experience knowing her is (and others like her).

The Tuesday of the Band Solo Festival, I was scheduled to moderate my Writers Group meeting; Liz had a Guard event, and Hubs’ boss had arrived in town. Being the mom, it was my event that got shorted. Anyway, Hannah did well in her performance – one of the comments from her judge was that he “could tell she had spent a lot of preparation time” getting ready for the performance. I couldn’t decide if I should laugh hysterically or beat my head on the desk where I was sitting. She scored a 1 Superior rating, and got a medal for it to add to the collection.

Heartache

Events took a sad turn mid-week. Chelsey, our doggie of eight years, had to be euthanized. She had been sick for a couple of years, kidney issues and the onset of what amounted to doggie Alzheimer’s. She was estimated at 13-14 years old. A sweet doggie who loved walks, having her ears rubbed and rides in the car. We tried to give her a good loving life.

My friend Kristy went with me so I wouldn’t have to go alone.

The one bump in the road came when the tech asked, “Do you want to take the remains with you?”

I gave her a blank, confused look and replied, “We don’t have anywhere to bury her, and besides, isn’t that illegal?”

She pointed to the cabinet that featured a lovely display of urns and wooden boxes.       After realizing she meant the cremated remains, I politely declined. Kristy and I stared at the display, then exchanged a look with each other.

We were thinking, “Creeeepyyyy.”

I didn’t want to delay the ordeal longer than necessary, and it went faster than I expected. They gave her medicine that made her sleep before the fatal dose. It was easier that she looked like she had when younger and happier.  Many times her expression looked like a smile, and that’s the expression she took with her across the “Rainbow Bridge”.  I miss her presence, but no more doggies for us at least a long time, if ever again.

Angst

Last week marked that time of year again – the time to pay a visit to the vampires for annual blood work. I hate needles and I freak at the sight of my own blood, so not ever a pleasant experience for me. However, the nice phlebotomist who did mine was quite skilled.  Took the least amount of time and pain I ever remember. Liz takes after me about needles.

She woke up sick last Monday. Her symptoms indicated strep throat, so I kept her home from school and set up an appointment with her doctor. Every time I take her to the doctor, I’m reminded that she will only be able to visit the pediatrician for another year. She’ll be 18, and well, grown. The strep test was negative, and during the exam, the doc decided he wanted a mono test as well. That’s a finger stick. Remember, needles and us don’t mix well. She freaked, thinking about all the tasks she had to accomplish before school year’s end, how would she get it all done if she has mono, and panicked into a full-blown panic attack. It wasn’t a good week for her, either.

Thursday, I got the call every parent dreads. At least I got it from one of Liz’s friends instead of the police, “Your child has been in a car accident.” Yep, the new car we bought her in February is likely totaled. It did its job, though.  Liz and her friend were sandwiched between a Dodge Ram and a Nissan sedan in a chain-reaction collision. They walked away with only bruises and muscle aches. We thought it would be a few years instead of a few months before something like this happened.

Of course, I reacted as any mother should, crazed and dazed. To top it off, when I got the phone call, I had just stepped out of the shower. Half-dressed, wet head; not a pretty picture. I did finish dressing so I wouldn’t scare the neighbors or the police, but in a moment like that, you don’t care about things like wet, stringy hair. As the weather heats up in Texas, wet hair becomes a commonplace sight anyway as people spend their days in their liquid back yards.

I rushed to the garage. The door wouldn’t open. It made sounds like it wanted to open, but it didn’t. No matter how many times I pushed the button, it wouldn’t go. The second step was try to lift the door. I’m strong, and I’ve done that before. It wouldn’t budge. So back to the button-pushing. Finally, the mechanism popped off the track, and the little metal thing ran back and forth. Can’t get the garage door open means can’t get the car out of garage. Crisis moment. How am I going to get there to see what’s really going on, make sure my child is really okay when I can’t really drive my own car anywhere?

I called my friend Kristy, and thankfully, she was able to pick me up in my freshly showered, bedraggled, crazed mama bear state and drive me to the wreck site. The friend’s mother had arrived before me, so the girls weren’t alone on the side of the road. Soon after, hubs arrived and drove us back home after the car, whose front end was mostly in pieces on the road, had been towed from the location.  Now, the outcome is in the hands of the insurance companies, and the Mom Taxi service is up and running again.

The police in Texas don’t do accident reports unless someone is injured bad enough to go to hospital.

When the school year ends, Liz becomes a senior in High School and is countable months away from her eighteenth birthday. I’m not ready or old enough to have a grown child.  Whether we’re ready or not, college is coming in a year.

Woe

Texas’ primary happens soon. I think it’s one of the latest primaries of the year. Since I turned eighteen, I’ve been a strong advocate for voting. Yet, this year, I am considering not voting in an election, for the first time. Maybe if  a category for None of the Above existed, I would vote. Cause that’s whom I’m supporting in this election. None of ‘em. Nada. Nil. From the local to the national, none of the candidates appeal to me.  My attitude about this year’s election can be summed up in a quote from Tim Hawkins: “One of them [the presidential candidates] wants me to pull myself up by my bootstraps. The other one wants to take my boots.”

I may not be a born Texan, but all Southerners know what boots are good for – kicking behinds and/or walking out doors.

Both Dick Clark and Jonathan Frid passed away this week.  If you’re from a certain age group, these were two influential individuals from your childhood.  Yes, I do happen to be in that group, barely.

The American Bandstand/ Soul Train block was must-see viewing every Saturday for Min & I.  It taught us to appreciate good rock music (which a lot of you now refer to as “classic rock”) and how to dance.  Back then, the most important thing for a song was a good beat that you could dance to.  We learned that from the Rate-A-Record segment.  Plus, we got to see some of our favorite performers on TV.   It was the B.C. time for television.  That means before cable (for those of you that can’t remember that cable didn’t used to exist).   Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were just beginning to tinker with and build electronic gadgets  in their parents’ basements.   The biggest thrill techno junkies got then was taking apart and rebuilding the family television.  Or building their own hand-held transistor radio.  The trick was whether or not the set would work after completion of the job.  My Keeper has confessed to this very act at his family home.  The only comment from his father: “You have to put it back together too.”  He did, and it worked, even considering that he had parts left over.   In his opinion, he made it operate more efficiently.  Yes, he grew up to be one of those smarty-pants, computery, engineering  types.

Min and I loved to dance.  We watched American Bandstand and Soul Train to learn all the latest moves.   Sadly, earlier this year, we also lost Don Cornelius, creator and host of Soul Train. For a couple of white Southern girls, we had pretty good rhythm, too.  Except she always made me do the guy part on the partner dancers.   During the Disco age, that was most of the popular dances.  I did have to dip her a lot, but I refused to do lifts.

I confess: I was alive on the planet during Dark Shadows’ original airing.  But I was a wee bit of a thing.  It’s one of the first shows I remember watching.  Yes, the family legend is true.  I believed Barnabas and the rest actually lived in the television and was afraid, if they saw me, they would come at night and get me. Still, I wished to know what Barnabas was up to.  So, I hid behind the couch every day while I watched.  In my defense, I wasn’t even school-age.   In later years, I watched Dark Shadows every time I found it airing.  I’ve even watched some pretty bad versions of it, but my favorite is still the original.  By the way, I did eventually quit hiding behind the couch when it was on.

Dick Clark seemed like he’d be around forever.  After all, he’d been on television since my parents were teens.  Min works at the high school we attended.  I’ve often accused her of aiming to be the female “Dick Clark”, the eternal teenager who never leaves high school.  Jonathan Frid was my first major fan girl crush, even more so than John-Boy Walton.   “Dark Shadows” was a big influence in my love of the fantasy genre. Let’s face it, I was bitten young.

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