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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.

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So, I turned 43 a few days ago. Eleven, to be exact, which can only mean that April is almost a memory — and, if I chose to look at it this way, that we are one step closer to yet another unbearable winter.

But I’m a “glass half full”-kinda gal, which I was reminded of this morning whilst troddling to work when I looked toward the southern sky and saw a jet streaming its whitetail trail diagonally upward (and westward) from the half-full moon.

And, besides, how pessimistic can a girl be when she encounters a sight like this?

Poppy Burst 1

I found that poppy Sunday morning when I was on my way over to The Lovely’s for lunch (chicken casserole, corn, peas, grape tomatoes, bread and butter, courtesy of Margaret). I thought the flower would be fully emerged by now, but it isn’t. I will keep checking because I’d really like to get it on film. Which, of course, is not actually film, but I still like saying “film” because … well, I just do. I know I’ve ranted about this before, but I like that I grew up using “film cameras” and knowing the importance of getting good negatives (even though I’m a positive person!) and even that, at this very second, I can still recall the (probably toxic) smell of D-76 developer and Acufine and Dektol … and, honestly, I wish I still had one or two of the shirts that I completely ruined by splashing fixer on them!

But I digress. And that poppy picture was most definitely taken with a digital camera and resized in PhotoShop while I was sitting here in my living room rather than in any kind of darkroom.

And as I sit here, I really could be in a crappy mood. I just — as I typed — received a call from my mechanic, Jay, who has had my car at his shop for four days now (not his fault: I had the car towed there Saturday morning [his shop is closed on the weekend], and it’s not as if there weren’t several other people with sick or injured vehicles ahead of me). Turns out my car’s timing chain broke, which is what caused the Grand Am to quit running while I was driving through South Sandusky Campground on the aforementioned Saturday morning. There could be other issues as well involving words or parts I don’t really know anything about, such as “valves” and “gaskets” and what-not, although the fact the car was going just 10 to 15 miles per hour at the time is supposedly A Good Thing.

I am cautiously optimistic.

Meanwhile, I am thankful for the beautiful spring weather we have been having. Makes walking the 11 blocks or so to work a surprisingly refreshing way to start the day!

Well … except for my broken left pinkie toe. Which might actually be sprained. Or maybe just jammed. All I know is it hurt like a bleeping bleep when I ran my foot into the humidifier the day I was getting ready to go to the opening for the art, craft and photography exhibition. (No, I didn’t win anything, but I did get some helpful suggestions regarding my photos. And I gained some insight into myself and my interests and abilities. [Remember: It IS all about me!] And it was kinda cool to be a part of the show because there was some really good stuff on display — most of which didn’t win anything, either — and I haven’t competed, photo-wise, in anything for a very long time … and the last time I did, I really should have won [instead of placing second] because the picture I took was dramatic and full of great action and facial expressions, and the picture that did win was a photograph of a girl running the hurdles — which, as any sports photographer knows, is probably THE easiest action shot to get because all you really have to do is focus on the hurdle and wait for the runner to jump over it!)

But, again, I digress.

And as far as my toe is concerned: It’s mostly just a little swollen now. The upper third of my foot was bruised for a few days, but the bruises are long gone now. If I could go barefoot all the time, my toe wouldn’t hurt at all, really; mostly, it’s uncomfortable when I cram my foot into my Merrells and for a few minutes afterwards, but then I’m OK. My tennis shoes don’t cause me any pain; in fact, I’ve played tennis five or six times since The Injury. So far, though, my foot hasn’t been able to get comfy in any other shoes.

What else should I say about turning 43?

Oh, yeah: My birthday was the day of the big earthquake that I essentially slept through! Diane and I spent a wonderful — albeit rainy — day in St. Louie, (briefly) exploring the Missouri Botanical Garden before heading over to Maggiano’s for lunch (mostly courtesy of a birthday gift card from Delra!), followed by a dash into Crate and Barrel, a nap in our room at the Drury Inn and a trip to Busch Stadium to see the Cardinals play the San Francisco Giants.

Kameron and Kendra helped me blow out the eight candles on my birthday cake the following day. The day after that, I got sunburned on my forearms, face and ears whilst watching Diane’s tennis team play their final two matches of the season. She’s retiring from coaching at the end of June, so it was bittersweet to see her team go out with a victory in the last match.

I spent the next two days recovering — and, naturally, playing Fetch with Kiddle (a.k.a. Bits)! — before having to return to work last Wednesday, just in time for Sheila’s birthday.

Other than all that, what can I say? The sun is shining as I write. Believe it or not, I even took my bicycle to Mr. Wiggs’ shop for new tires and tubes!

Note: This bloggie post is being written whilst the writer is under the influence of NyQuil Cold & Cough. Any typos, grammatical errors and/or nonsensical ramblings should be credited to/blamed on the NyQuil.

So, here I am, back from The Kansas City Road Trip one full day ahead of schedule — thanks, in no small part, to the fact that the RLC tennis team won just one match (that win occurred when two of our doubles teams had to play each other!) in the tournament. Which should not be construed as a negative comment about the RLC squad; fact is, the tournament was loaded with great teams from various junior/community colleges — most of them loaded with great players from various countries throughout the world. (NOT to say that Southern Illinois isn’t a “hotbed” for tennis players!)

We left for Kansas Thursday evening, and after approximately six hours of driving, we got to our hotel around 9 p.m. By that time, both of my nostrils were completely blocked with snot and crud and whatever else fills a person’s head during allergy/hay fever season; in fact, my whole head felt as if someone were trying to blow up a balloon inside of it — while someone else had hooked a clothes pin on my nose! How odd/annoying NOT to be able to breathe through your nose.

That lasted most of the night until, oddly enough, my nose started to run … yet, still was completely blocked. (I’m sure I made all kinds of noises during my mouth-breathing slumber; fortunately, my hotel roomie, The Lovely, apparently slept right through it. Otherwise, I suspect she might’ve been tempted to put me — and, more importantly, herself — out of any misery by covering my face with a pillow!)

Friday was pretty much a wasted day. The players and their coach spent the morning and afternoon at the tennis courts; I spent the day in Room 318 of the Pear Tree Inn, feeling horrible. Eventually, around 1 p.m., I managed to walk over to Panera, risking life and limb while crossing a multiple-lane major intersection, which of course included a “walk” sign that lasted until you got about halfway across the road and then started flashing the “don’t walk” sign, forcing you to sprint across the final three lanes for fear of being hit by 20-some cars!

I got my 1/2 Greek salad and my 1/2 turkey and Swiss on country bread to go and managed to make it across the highway, again (vowing never to attempt it again). I was quite happy to get back in my hotel room, where I scarfed down the food and decided to watch some more TV.

I have to tell you, I had some weird, almost agoraphobic thoughts when I was holed-up in my room. I attribute those to being slightly off-kilter ever since the weekend before my last road trip, the aforementioned Wrigley Field adventure; then, over the past few days, I’ve been fighting this congestion. On Tuesday, Sandy gave me a Claritin-type timed-release pill which cleared my head AND nostrils, pronto! — but then I didn’t sleep AT ALL that night. (I mean, I must’ve drifted off a couple of times throughout the night, but I don’t remember actually getting any sleep!) The next night, I was back to my Benadryl and slept great.

Anyway, agoraphobically speaking: I did NOT want to go anywhere on Friday. I did not want to leave the room, and I found myself thinking of all kinds of reasons not to go out. Naturally, though, hunger won out — at lunchtime and, later, when I went to dinner and the mall with the team. I didn’t feel much like going, physically, but mentally, it was good for me.

Yada yada yada, the team had just two matches today, first thing this morning, so we decided not to stay another 24 hours and just “hang out.” Which meant a long day of driving today (we left at 10 a.m. and arrived home at 6 p.m. … with a couple of detours along the way!), but now I’m home and happy. And slightly medicated (with more to follow, I’m sure!), and feeling pretty good.

(I think I had more I wanted to babble about, but … I’ve lost concentration. Go figure!)

Weekend before last, we — Diane, Karl, Sherry, the kids and I — are all sitting around at Diane’s, watching Roger Federer play Novak Djokovic for the U.S. Open championship and the Chicago Bears play the San Diego Chargers on the split-screen. Actually, Diane and the grandkidlets are out in the kitchen, coloring and what-not around the new Spider-Man table.

A few minutes later, Kameron comes running into the living room and yells, “Go, Cubbies!”

Confusion ensues, for Diane, Karl, Sherry AND the kids (for all we know) are fans of the St. Louis Cardinals. I, of course, am the lone Cubs fan in the group. (Kurt likes them, too, but he’s way down in Loosiana.)

“What’s that?” I ask Kameron.

“Go, Cubbies!” he yells again and then scampers back to the kitchen.

“Who taught him that?” I ask — convinced that one of the adults did so, simply to taunt me.

They all deny it, and the more I think about it, the more I realize that none of them would EVER do or say anything that could even remotely be considered in favor of the Cubs.

Apparently, Kam has come up with this gem on his own! And he is all too happy to repeat himself, several times, whilst I capture it all on cell-phone video.

The next morning, Karl and I are in the car at 7 a.m., heading to Wrigley Field in Chicago where we are going to watch the Cardinals play the Cubs in a game that was postponed a few weeks ago because of rain. (Note to self: Driving to Chicago and back, all in one day, is a road trip you never want to take … especially when the drive home includes constant rain from just outside the city clear down to Troy!)

Although the city itself, as usual, is great fun. We spend 45 minutes at Niketown on Michigan Avenue, then tool over to Arturo’s for nacho chips and tacos for lunch. Less than an hour later, we’re cruising toward Clark, parking about five blocks from Wrigley and then walking to the historic stadium.

Along the way, I see a cute doggie:

How much is that doggie ON the window?

Before long, we’re at the ballpark, and I make Karl snap a picture of me in front of a very recognizable landmark (and, no, I don’t mean McDonald’s!).

Di at Wrigley Field

Once we’re inside, I see one of my favorite Cubs players, shortstop Ryan Theriot, warming up on the sidelines.

The Riot Throwing

The Riot on Deck

Yeah, OK, it’s pronounced “terry-oh,” but isn’t that a cool last name: THE RIOT?!

We’ve got awesome seats, too, so I shoot some action shots during the course of the Cubs’ 12-3 rout of their arch-rivals — including Jacque Jones getting a base hit, and three of my faves (Derrek Lee, David Eckstein and Jim Edmonds).

Jacque Jones Hit

Lee-Eckstein-Edmonds

It rains a little during the game, but thanks to my scorecard serving as sort of a windshield/rain deflector, my clothes AND my camera stay dry.

Two of my favorite parts of the game — aside from the Cubs’ five-run fourth inning — are the women serving as gatekeepers/bouncers for the row in front of us. People try, hard as they can, to get to their seats by walking down the row, but NOTHING gets past these old women, who make them go back up and around and back down! (It’s not all hard work; they also get to take part in the traditional “Y-M-C-A” performance.)

Directing Traffic

Y-M-C-A!

And this sign makes me chuckle:

Foul Balls

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