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OK, so, admittedly, it’s been awhile* since I last blogged: Just under 5 months, if anyone’s counting (and Jane, I KNOW you are) — and I do not have a good excuse for going so long between posts … although I do have a pretty damn good reason for not paying all that much attention to my bloggie in recent months … plus I know, in my heart of hearts, that anyone who truly needs A Daily Dose of Di usually knows where to find me, online and otherwise.

Anyhoo, I could not let today’s awesome yet ultimately heartbreaking men’s championship match between Roger Federer and Andy Roddick go by without reminiscing about and even celebrating the 10-year anniversary of when I had a childhood dream come true and got to go to the All England Lawn Tennis Club at Wimbledon. (My ACTUAL childhood dream involved playing a point on Centre Court, while one of my, uhm, adult fantasies involves making out there. Neither of those occurred during my 1999 trip to Wimbledon, of course, but I did get to see Pete Sampras and Venus Williams play matches on Centre Court.)

Not saying I would have been able to play a point there, either, because before I even left the United States — in fact, just as I boarded the Metra in a South Side suburb of Chicago to begin the second leg of the journey (the one that would take us Downtown to catch a cab to O’Hare) — I suffered a horrible ankle sprain, thanks to a lame-brain conductor who insisted I move from one mostly empty train car into another mostly empty train car. While I was still standing in the inclined aisle of the mostly empty train car I was already in, the train began moving, and as it lurched forward, I staggered and my right ankle rolled completely over and all kinds of pain ensued. But, what the heck: Who needs two good ankles for activities like running through airports or walking through the grounds of Wimbledon or leisurely strolling through London and Paris?

However, the incident made for some funny stories, later, and gave me ample opportunities  to show off my spot-on British accent whilst telling them, so it was not an entirely bad thing.

What do I remember most about Wimbledon?

  • Seeing Anna Kournikova making her way toward the practice courts just as our bus dropped us off.
  • Watching Steffi Graf practicing on an outer court.
  • Laughing as Martina Hingis, whom I believe was the No. 1 seed, lost in the first round on Court 1. (I had gotten tickets for that court off some guy I found on the Internet. I will admit, it was a little scary: I sent him some money and he said he would send the tickets, known as Debentures, to the hotel where I was staying — and when I arrived at the Henley House Hotel, the tickets were actually there!)
  • Marveling over how small Centre Court looked when Pete Sampras played on it. (I swear, he served the ball and got to the net in, like, 2 steps!)

Mostly, I just remember wandering around the outer courts and noticing how everything was so GREEN — from the grass courts to the overall color scheme of the tennis facility. And I recall smiling over how much bigger Centre Court was than it looks on television … and also how much bigger it was than the lawn of the house I grew up in, where Debra and I and various neighorhood kids played badminton rather than tennis but still referred to our ongoing tournaments each summer as Wimbledon.

———

I never thought Andy Roddick would make it to another Grand Slam final, let alone put up such an incredible fight before going down 16-14 in the 5th set of Wimbledon.

I admit: I gave up on Roddick years ago. He always struck me as sort of a one-shot wonder: Big serve, no real game to back it up. Too slow. Too inconsistent. Not enough heart. True, he has a U.S. Open title to his credit, but that was WAY BACK in 2003 (seems SO long ago, doesn’t it?), and although he’s had a couple of chances to play for a Wimbledon title before, once those opportunities came and went, I never, ever thought he’d get another chance to play for the championship, let alone win it.

And it’s possible, perhaps even probable, that he won’t ever win Wimbledon. But, wow: He gave it everything he had today, and I found myself not only hoping but also believing that he would win the match. And when it was over, I found myself feeling so, so bad for him — yet I was also so thankful I got to see the effort he put in because that, to me, is what sports in general and tennis in particular are all about: Playing your best and giving it your all, win or lose.

He reaffirmed my faith that, indeed, anything is possible. In fact, everything is.

Believe it!

———

* — After using the phrase “it’s been awhile,” I am, OF COURSE, reminded of the song by the same name by Staind … and my favorite line: “And it’s been awhile / but I can still remember just the way you taste.”

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Random List I Found on the First Page of a (Slightly) Used Reporter’s Notebook in My Bottom-Left Desk Drawer at Work

so much green
ladybug
snake — quicker than I
knife
hike-no bike
dandeline
my legs itch

No clue when (or why) I wrote this. Could have been written at the lake — “knife” and “hike-no bike” reminds me of what I would have had in my pocket as I walked on the bike trail, on which I have never ridden a bicycle. Or, perhaps, whilst I was sitting at a picnic table near the golf course (for some reason, “so much green” reminds me of being there — not on the course, of course, but on the lawn where I was sitting).

And what made me misspell “dandelion”?

One wonders …

I took part in a conversation earlier today in which I advised someone NOT to take things personally. It was a friendly discussion, and the reply I received was that taking something personally was part of caring. I replied that it is possible to care — quite much, even — about something without taking it personally.

What do YOU think?

… I’ve ever known — even though I dreaded facing it almost as much as anything in recent memory.

Fittingly, Kiddle woke me up at 4:11 a.m. wanting to play fetch.

I thought I’d snooze until at least 5 a.m., get up, shower, get dressed and go de-ice my car, which was still parked next door at my insurance agent’s office. I spent about 15 minutes on the car before I realized it was probably going to take at least an hour to get the windows cleared — and even if I accomplished that task, I still didn’t like the looks of Ruth Street. My next thoughts: What if I get stuck in that ice-snow muck? Who’s going to push me out at 6:15 a.m.?

I looked around and sort of savored the moment: The snow was coming down steadily, but unlike the last couple of days and nights, during which we received sleet or freezing rain, practically non-stop, this precipitation was virtually silent. The whole town was quiet, in fact, and the streetlights illuminated the snow as it fell.

The sign at McCollum’s said 15 degrees, but honestly, I felt warm. I did, after all, have on my Timberlands, longjohns, jeans and sweatpants, two T-shirts, my RLC Tennis hoodie, stocking cap, scarf, gloves and coat.

“I’m walkin’!” I said (to no one there).

I turned off the car, went inside, stuffed my camera and some extra clothes and shoes into my backpack, and headed out.

I started in darkness, but by the time I reached the news office about 30 minutes later (OK, it’s only 10 blocks, but I was slowed by the snow and I did stop to take a picture of a man walking his doggies), it was daylight. The snow had stopped falling and the sun was coming out.

Unfortunately, within a span of about 10 minutes, I realized that I just might be the only person who was able to make it in to work. No biggie — except I had no idea how to do the composition part of sending the newspaper pages to the press plant! Luckily, a few minutes later, in walked my lone reporter, Mona, who also had hoofed it (she had a longer walk than I did, even!), followed shortly by Kim, Junior and Billy from the mailroom, and Sheila, our circulation manager.

Thanks to Michelle’s assistance via telephone, I was able to get the pages PDF’d and sent. In the meantime, my buddy Lea came by in her Trail Blazer, went to pick up lunch and then stuck around until we were finished with the paper to give Mona and me a ride home — she even made a detour so I could drop off some Cokes for The Currently Snowbound Diane!

Once I returned home, I immediately took some pictures of snow-covered stuff in my yard. After that, I resumed the process of  de-icing my car — made somewhat easier by the bright sun.

While I was scraping the windshield, a man pulled up in a car and parked in the space next to mine. I gave him a quick smile, but he basically ignored me as he carried a piece of paper inside. What a grump! I thought as I merrily went about removing huge chunks of ice.

The man came out a few minutes later and, once again, pretty much ignored me. Then he opened his car door and said, flatly, “I can see you’ve never lived in the northern part of Illinois.” As he spoke, he reached in and grabbed an ice scraper that basically made my scraper look like a tiny toy!

I couldn’t help thinking: Ooh, thanks for pointing out that I am woefully unequipped for this daunting task! (Or something like that; I’m pretty sure I didn’t think of those exact words until I started typing away on this post!)

Next thing I knew, though, he was scraping away at the windshield, scraping away at the back window, all the while telling me about a dandy way to use a soda bottle filled with tap water (“Nothing too warm,” he said, “or you’ll crack the glass in your windows!”) to help melt the ice.

A few minutes later, the windows were almost completely clear … or at least as clear as I cared about getting them, considering I wasn’t actually going to be going anywhere for another 15 hours!

I walked home, went inside, removed my wet clothes and put on some dry ones, and then sat down. Finally.

Kiddle immediately brought me one of her toy mice. Obviously, it was time for more fetch!

I think I may have, inadvertently and actually quite nonchalantly, invented a new word whilst writing a comment to go with a photo I was posting on my Facebook site: blah-ful.

I used it to describe today, weather-wise, and I think it fits. I suppose it would be more accurate if a person also happened to be congested and/or coughing and/or asymptomatic (is that the word I’m wanting) of any other cold- and flu-related illness; then he or she would feel absolutely blah-ful. (Do I need the hyphen? Let’s decide: blah-ful or blahful? I have to say, I believe the grammatically correct part of me wants to go with the latter version!)

(That part of me also realizes I should definitely cut down on my use of -ly adverbs, but … I can’t do it. Nor do I want to, really.)

I’m rooting for Rafa in the Australian Open, though I won’t be upset if Federer wins the title to tie Pete Sampras’ Grand Slam record (14).

After our trip to New York last summer, Diane and I could complete a Grand Slam of our own if we headed Down Under to see the Aussie Open, but I don’t see that happening. Who wants to spend 16 hours on plane? We spent eight hours, one way,  in 1999 (London) and 2001 (Amsterdam) — including me with a severely sprained ankle and nowhere to prop it up in 1999, and that could’ve been the most uncomfortable time I have ever spent traveling.

Still, I can see where being in Australia in the dead of winter could be fun — and, more importantly, warm. Perhaps when I’m rich and famous, I shall “winter” there!

Here are a couple more shots of the blue jay feather I found today:

I wish I could bottle up the feeling I’ve had over the past 3 hours, save it for a rainy day, pull it out whenever I needed it, have it there, at the ready, always.

It’s a feeling of confidence. A true belief in myself and my abilities, borne of a mixture of frustration, annoyance, disappointment and anger blended with calmness, apathy, optimism and love — and, of course, my ever-present sense of humor … and even a bit of arrogance.

At this moment, even in these uncertain times, I feel as “at peace” as I ever have. It’s unnerving and reassuring, all at once.

Wicked!

Here are some photos from this morning’s drive to work:

Too sleepy to blog properly this evening, but I did want to note for posterity that today was a gorgeous day, weather-wise. Not sure what the “high” was, but I believe the mercury rose to somewhere in the 50s!

(I knew NOT wearing longjohns to work was a good idea!)

I even found myself looking for crocuses (croci? Jim Croce?), even though I know it’s far too early in the year. Or is it? I might have to backtrack to determine when they usually bloom.

Anyhoo, thoughts of spring give me optimism. I know it’s a long way off — the technician at Super Lube told me it’s supposed to get cold again this weekend — but it’s much easier to be hopeful at this time of year than, say, November.

(Also for posterity: Kiddle is currently curled up on my lap with her nose pressed against my right thumb as I type. Not the easiest way to write a post, but … whatcha gonna do? I mean, she’s purring as if she’s the happiest cat in the world!)

Yeah, yeah, I’m pretty sure I vowed to make a new bloggie post several weeks ago, and obviously those weeks have gone by with nary a word.

I can honestly say that I have meant to sit down and write a few lines, and it’s no secret that I’ve been online often enough to have done so, but the truth of the matter is, every time I’ve thought about posting, I’ve come up with something else to do, such as finding people on Facebook (it’s fun!) or surfing relentlessly or playing yet another mind-numbing (and usually unsuccessful) game of Minesweeper. (See! That’s EXACTLY why I refuse to invest in a videogame system, no matter how much I want to be able to hop online and challenge Patti and/or her her kiddos to a game of whatever Mario Bros. contest happens to be in the machine at the moment — I quite literally would never get anything else done!)

So I’m borrowing Jane’s nickname as my title for today’s post because that’s exactly what I am: a slacker. The “if not the original, certainly a reasonable facsimile” slacker.

Put it this way: I can slack with the best of them … and I have, what, a more than one-month lag between posts to prove it!

Today I feel energetic yet annoyed. And upbeat, in general, because President Barack Obama is now in the White House, and despite the relatively miserable state of our nation, I have confidence that he is going to try to get some stuff accomplished. As I’ve gone on record before, I’m not naive enough to think he will actually be able to DO all the things he wants to do, nor am I a person who has ever had all that much faith in the president (first presidential memory: Richard Nixon resigning; enough said). However, I do think our nation’s leader is responsible for setting the tone for our country’s overall mood by stepping up and being just that: a leader.

And I think President Obama is quite capable of doing that.

My annoyance comes not from the president’s detractors but from the overall negativity that certain individuals always seem to want to inflict on others. Over the years, I have found myself basically banishing certain people from my life (even if I still saw them on a regular basis) because I realized they were doing absolutely nothing (say it again!) to make my life better.

And, lest we forget: It IS all about me … except when it isn’t.

I mean, I would completely ignore the negativists (cool word, even if it does refer to people who annoy me!) for as long as necessary — and wouldn’t you know: IT WORKED!

Quite frankly, I strongly suspect none of them ever realized (or cared) that they were being ignored, and I don’t recall any of them ever actually changing into shiny, happy people. Which, now that I think about it, probably wasn’t my intent, anyway.

I can’t really change people; I can only change how I react to them.

Meanwhile, I have balanced the realization that you cannot reason with nor understand the rationale of an unreasonable, irrational person with the excitement over reconnecting with a few people who meant quite much to me when I was a much younger person. (In other words: I have been aggravated beyond belief by someone I know who, quite possibly, is crazy — or, if not, exhibits power freak issues and demonstrates a complete lack of understanding and empathy. On the other hand, I have been thrilled to have renewed some very important relationships over the past several days/weeks.)

Out with the bad, in with the good, I say!

Does that ever happen, really?

I don’t think so. I, for example, would undoubtedly be better about — and perhaps even caught up with — blogging if I were able to blog something every time I think about blogging it. But then again, with today’s technological advances, not to mention the amount of time a day I spend sitting at a computer, I probably actually could blog anything and everything I ever wanted, the very second it crosses my mind.

However, I will never be that organized. Nor that committed. I mean: Gimme a break!

So, here are a few shots I have taken over the last, oh, 3 weeks or so … in no particular order … as usual!

This was taken yesterday on my way back from Akin Grade School. I had to snap it because of the haystacks/bales and the telephone poles and the water tower and the truck. Plus it reminds me of Jane and Ray.

Those shots were from our quick trip to Chicago, during which it was basically too cold to walk anywhere — except for a short jaunt down 2 or 3 blocks of Michigan Avenue on Saturday … and we did manage to mosey over to the big Christmas tree at Daley Plaza.

On Thanksgiving Day, Diane and I stopped at the Goat Tower en route to The Ville. She had read about the tower in American Profile: Apparently, a Shelby County farmer built it for his goats, which are from Saanen, Switzerland — where, apparently, the terrain is rather mountainous. (I have no idea if that’s true or not, but … well, it must be, no?)

Apparently, mountain goats the relocate to the flatlands of Illinois don’t mind relaxing on the decidedly un-mountainous terrain!

Later in the day, we relaxed in the recliners in front of my parents’ new doors, watching a little bit of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

I posted this on another site as “Joey and Chandler” (like the Friends characters), but I have now decided maybe we’re more like “Alan and Denny” (as in “Shore” and “Crane” from Boston Legal, which I already miss more than I ever imagined possible).

Except for the scotch. And the cigars.

After dinner came the best part of the day (next to the pumpkin pie, of course!): Christmas crafts, courtesy of mi madre. From left are Aunt Janie, Diane, Delra, Di and Mom. We made Christmas trees, gingerbread men (complete with rolling pins!) and tiny bell angels.

I have the cutest cat in the entire world.

Which is kind of funny because — and I may have mentioned this earlier — the first time I saw her, I thought she was the strangest-looking cat I’d ever seen in my entire life.

I’ll post some pictures of her helping me decorate our Christmas tree and wrap presents … eventually. Maybe. Unless I get busy doing something else.

I’m not an alcoholic, but earlier this week, this part of “The Serenity Prayer” helped calm me down a little bit:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

I will admit I have been rather concerned about The Lovely and her grandkids, who also happen to be my godkids. Part of me knows that, to quote Shawn Mullins, “everything’s gonna be all right,” but there are no certainties in this life, really, and so, when upheaval strikes, sometimes I find myself trying to tune out everything in hopes of finding the answer somewhere within.

Doesn’t always work, and sometimes I, like most people, find that being inside my head can be a dangerous place.

And sometimes not!

Anyway, a few minutes ago I crawled into bed, covered up, and almost immediately had a memory of Kameron from the first time we took him to Key West. He was walking then, but he wasn’t quite a year old, and every night around 8 o’clock or so, he would hit what we called The Delirium Stage — basically, he started acting kinda nutty, mostly because he was trying to keep himself awake.

On New Year’s Eve, his parents went out, and Diane and I stayed at the condo with Kameron, watching movies. On that night, he didn’t get too “delirious”; in fact, he climbed up on the couch and fell asleep in just a few minutes.

Or so we thought.

Diane asked me if I could carry him into the bedroom without waking him up. I said I’d try, and as I knelt down next to the couch to lift him, he opened his eyes.

And he just started LAUGHING! (I was afraid he’d start crying.)

It was one of my favorite moments ever.

Why does it seem so long ago? Kameron’s not even 5 yet.

Sheila holds up her camera to take a picture of the two of us, and she asks, “What do you think I’m gonna get a picture of?”

“Your nose!” I reply.

Obviously, I should have said, “Our noses!”

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My Shots on Flickr

Waving

100b1510

Shed & Pump