Friday, September 26, 2014

Second chances

I thought I would wait until the ire surrounding the Ray Rice/domestic violence in the NFL died down a bit before posting some thoughts. Of course, with an ongoing investigation, it is still rare to go more than a few days without seeing that incredibly disturbing video.

So here goes my thoughts about various topics around the saga and domestic violence in general:

  • Enough with the video. Can someone please think of Janay, Rice's wife. And I feel sorry for their daughter who in just a few years will probably be on the Internet and come across that. Just stop.
  • It does not (much) matter that the extremely damning video came out later; the Ravens and the NFL should have done more knowing what they knew months ago. Rice said he hit his fiancée, and at the time there was video of his dragging her unconscious body out of the elevator. For the love of God, why wasn't that abhorrent enough to warrant more than a two-game suspension?
  • It is never okay to strike a woman. Closed-fisted, open-handed, it does not matter. If a woman has wronged you, hits you first (which is also wrong), or badgers you verbally for hours on end, you need to walk away. Punch a wall if you must. But not a woman. Never. I might even go so far as to say even if she is 6 feet tall and 250 and you are 5'6" and 140 pounds wet. But you know what I mean, hopefully.
  • Women who stay with abusers don't deserve scorn. You probably have no idea why they won't leave, but to them, it is a really good reason. And often there are many reasons: fear, forgiveness, thinking divorce is a sin, fear, their children, embarrassment, fear, money, thinking it is their fault, fear, self-esteem issues, bad advice, fear, not wanting to be alone, thinking they will never find someone else, fear. Yes, I said fear. A lot. Based on my experience volunteering at a DV shelter many moons ago, fear was up there and a big motivator to stay (because really, if your man points a gun at your head and says he will shoot you if you leave, I am guessing that would be enough to make most women stay). But again, many, many reasons.
  • Most batterers hit again. Ask any woman who has ever been hit. Some change, but it is probably not worth it to take a chance and find out if said person is a new man. But see my next point.
  • Once someone has been suitably punished (and Ray Rice has not been yet, as far as in the eyes if the law, but he has as far as the NFL is concerned, if he misses the entire season), and in some cases, once there is enough passage of time, we should move on. See my next point for more about that. But when I say "we," I do not mean the victim of DV; I mean the rest of us.
  • Former Steeler James Harrison slapped his girlfriend many years ago. The Steelers, particularly Dan Rooney, did not handle it well. I am pretty sure I blogged or wrote a letter to the editor about it. But that was years ago. Since Harrison has not gotten in trouble for anything DV-related since then, why punish him now? I would say this for any person, any team. Otherwise, why not just leave every person in prison and never let anything go? And, yeah, for me this applies to all wrongdoings. I don't hold Ben Roethlisberger in the highest regard as a person. But he was suspended for what he did (and keep in mind he was not charged with anything nor was there proof). So I am over it. 
  • Again, I am saying this as an outsider, not the girlfriend or wife of an abuser or sexual assaulter. Because those people have no obligation whatsoever to move on as far as forgiving and forgetting. But if they do? Again up to them.
  • Finally, we make our own choices. What we do is rarely the fault of our team, family, coworkers, school, teachers, etc. Dont hate and/or blame entire entities for one person's screw up. I root for entire teams. I refuse to hate a team because of the things a few did. Just as I would not quit my job if I found out a coworker or boss drive drunk and injured someone. And just as I would not shun an entire family if one of their kids was a drug user and seller.

Now giving someone a third chance? That is different. Still working through my thoughts there.

That is all for now.




Sunday, September 21, 2014

42 going on 22, going on 37, going on 63

Can someone please tell me I am not alone in feeling as if I were a different age on different days?!

I am 42 3/4, and quite comfortable sharing my age with anyone. This is due mostly to my mom's shaving four years off her age and my finding out about it in the seventh grade, via looking at her yearbook at Grandma's. But the other reason I don't bother hiding my age is because if you are not getting older, then you aren't doing anything (except, perhaps decaying in the ground). You are welcome for that visual!

But feeling and/or looking a certain age is another matter entirely.

I think I look around 37. I don't know why I have that age in mind, but I am quite convinced few people would guess I was in my 40s. In fact just recently, two gals in the choir, who are somewhere between late 20s and early to mid 30s seemed genuinely surprised I was 42. I told them I think of myself as 37, and one said she thought I looked even younger. (She is my new best friend.) The other one said that 42 is the answer to everything. So there is that!

A few weeks ago when I was riding the bus in Oakland, where there are several universities, some older woman (she was in her 80s, maybe she said 84 or 86) asked me if I was a college student. I laughed and told her, "Not for over 20 years."

I walk around campus with a backpack, because I can carry more things. But I am not going to lie: There are times I pretend I am a college student and imagine that people (i.e., students) think I am one of them. Which is, of course, ridiculous. Although, as my one coworker said, that 85-ish woman probably thought I was a grad student, or she just had poor eyesight!

Then there are the times when I feel young(er) and within a matter of minutes or hours, I feel about 20 years older. 

Yesterday, I went running, which is something I started to do again, but only 2-4 times per month. I started out, as I typically do, feeling like I was all that, convinced that anyone who saw me was impressed with my great shape and form and probably thinking I was this pretty 35-year old. However, within five minutes, I felt every bit of 42. And by the time I got to the second-to-last, killer hill, just over 20 minutes into my run, my heart rate had gone beyond the max it should, I was panting more than a dog on a warm day, I was dripping with sweat, and I felt as if I were pushing 60. Afterwards, I was sore for hours, and I felt old, sad, and out of shape.

Today? I don't know. I guess I feel 42. But in a young mom kind of way. :-)




Friday, September 12, 2014

Can't cry hard enough

Pretty sure I've used that as a blog post title post before. But it fits. 

Yesterday, we found out Sadie, our nearly 13-year old dog, has cancer and likely only a few months to live. She had a growth by her tail, which hindered its usual question-mark shape. I had thought it had to do with her injured ACL (maybe she was overcompensating). But when I really looked at it, I decided maybe we should get it checked out. 

When we walked into the vets's office a few days later (last night), the vet took one look and said it was bad. No need to biopsy. He knew. And because of its location, he could not operate (though at her age, I would not put her through that anyway). He said things will probably get bad; she'll have trouble going to the bathroom, particularly if/when the mass grows. She is struggling with that now, but she can still go; everything else seems okay. She did get sick a few times this evening, but I am hoping it is a fluke and not the beginning of the end. I am counting on those few months and selfishly hoping for more.

I am not ready to say good bye yet. I cried so much last night. I did not even sleep for two hours last night. Thank goodness I was able to stay home, rest, and just be with girl, the original reason I was called "Mom."

I have been quite upset about the Ray Rice/NFL crap. I had wanted to write a post about that, mostly to express my disappointment with the NFL. But I never got around to it. And last night, it mattered less. (Though my feelings about it have not changed; they are a mixture of anger and sadness.)

J and I decided to start a blog about Sadie (sadiethepitbull.blogspot.com). I like to think I/we will do a better job of keeping up with that than I do around here. I hope it helps us. 

Because I can't cry hard enough.



Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sometimes it is easier to focus on others' problems

Let me start off by saying I have much to be thankful and grateful for. And I am mostly positive and optimistic, so that helps. 

Some days (mostly, fortunately, just hours or even shorter periods), I feel frustrated. Angry. Sad. Other things.

I might yell. I most likely will cuss. Sometimes I even cry.

I wonder how things got that way. Why this happened to me. When things will get better. 

I like things to make sense. I believe people should treat others as well as animals and nature with kindness and/or respect. To this day, I just don't understand why people do otherwise unless they have been badly provoked (for the record, I am pretty sure the empty McDonald's bag you just threw on the street did not provoke you, but I could be mistaken).

I don't get it when people are always negative and can't see the upside to anything. I get annoyed when people complain about things and do nothing to try to change the situation. I don't understand why it is so hard for people to admit when they are wrong. And I get frustrated when people get upset and give up easily. Whoever said life was or should be easy?!

All of this does not take into account depression or mental illness (and I am hopeful that not all or even most people who fit the above bill are depressed or mentally ill, though I am fairly certain some are).

Is it selfish of me to think it's okay when I get mad or sad, but get annoyed when others do it so much more? Maybe. 

Am I better than the people who seem to talk about others often just because I do it only once in awhile? Probably not.

Just because I can admit I need to be better at something but choose to do nothing about it, is that somehow more acceptable than those who rant and rave about a situation but can't see their part in it? Not really, I suppose.

I really have no idea where I am going with this. I just know that sometimes I want to scream, and tonight, for about 15 minutes, was one of those times. As was a time late this afternoon. And briefly yesterday. And probably 12 other times in the last couple of weeks. 

Sometimes I feel as if I am failing, which bothers me. And other times I feel as if others are failing, and that bothers me too.

And I just don't know what to do. 

But the good news is that the positive optimist that I am won't dwell on this.

But, alas, it will come back.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Rainy days and Mondays always get me down

I took a vacation day yesterday. Things have been slow at work, so I figured I might as well take the day (even though I will probably want/need that day this coming school year when J has about a dozen, somewhat random, days off). J and I were finishing up a visit to my mom's, which included my adorable, but somewhat whiny and very good storyteller, nephew. I did a little cleaning and laundry at home, nothing too exciting. Mostly I was just glad to be off on a Monday because who likes Mondays?

Except by "losing" my Monday yesterday, I got punched in the gut by Monday's evil sister, appearing on a Tuesday.

It started off as it had for the last week, which was with a slight pain in my back from something (cyst maybe?) that I will now most likely need to have removed. Try not to visualize that too much.

After I was nearly ready, I went in J's room to wake her up. I act as her snooze, which allows her to slowly awaken over a period of 5 to 10 minutes. During that time I feed the fish and do my hair. I noticed when I dropped the fish flakes into the tank, that Mr. Goldberg, the very large fish, was not swimming around. I quickly looked around, then looked to the top and fortunately did not see him floating. Instead, he was inside this long, but not huge, log at the bottom of the tank. Mr. Goldberg is too big for the log; he has never fit in there. Yet somehow he managed to cram his entire body inside. This did not look good. But I thought his fins were moving. Until I realized they probably were not. I decided, at first, against telling J. I went down to get my coffee, which I have set on a timer. It smelled great, much stronger and more obvious than usual. Then I realized that I must not have put the pot completely underneath the basket, and the coffee was spilling over the top and onto the butcher block. That took quite a few minutes to clean up. Because I need my morning coffee, I strained the coffee through a coffee filter into my cup, since the coffee/water that made it into the pot was full of grounds.

Running late, I asked Jordan if she had checked on the fish. I told her that Mr. Goldberg was in the log. She went to check and noticed that he was upside down. Crap. Tears ensued. I struggled to get him out, but could not, what with a dressy long-sleeved blouse on, so I told the hubs about it. And I told J we could have a service for him later.

J got into the car a few minutes later, and more tears came. Within a few minutes, she told me that the tooth fairy did not come last night. Sonofabeech! Then, when we were nearly there, she said we forgot her water bottle, which she uses at her day camp.

At this point, I was ready to cry myself, convinced that this Tuesday was worse than any typical Monday. But I could barely hear myself think as my already loud car (I think it has something to do with the tires) was rattling like crazy from the dashboard.

As we walked into her day camp, and she went over to her hook, she also reminded me that we did not bring her towel, as we do at the beginning of every week. Fortunately, it was a little chilly for water day. But for the love of Pete, could I have forgotten one more thing?!

Naturally, I missed my usual bus, but the next bus was running late, so I made that. I was only a few minutes late to work, so there was that. And it was not hot, which is awesome for July. I was finally busy at work (hooray) but we found out a staff meeting that some cuts were made and more may come, so, sigh. I was mostly annoyed by my back pain, but more annoyed that my dermatologist cannot see me for over three weeks. Sigh, again.

At least the day ended on a positive note. I came home to a good meal, as I am lucky enough to almost always do. The hub had dug out a hole in the side year and prepared a "casket" as well as a stone that J wrote on. And the three of us had a lovely service for Mr. Goldberg, complete with Jordan's musical selection of "Hallelujah" playing on her iPod. Once that was done, we headed to Rita's for some much-needed therapeutic sugar.

I still want to punch this Tuesday in the face, but I guess it just goes to show you (me) you can't outrun a Monday!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Oh, beautiful, the city view

Yesterday I took my dad and my kid up the incline so we could get a great view of the city. I ended up with some nice shots. I only wish I had thought to have brought my camera; the iphone does not do the view justice.

Nice view of Heinz Field and the three rivers (mostly the Ohio and Allegheny)

The edge of the Point, with Downtown and the Mon River


Mostly the Point

View of the Ohio and a little of Heinz Field

The Ohio



We ate at the Grandview Saloon, which I have not been to, I am guessing, since before J was born. We were fortunate that the waiter got this nice shot of the three of us with the view in the background.

dad, J and I, with our fair city and a couple of rivers in the background (plus some random guy to my left)


We also took a Gateway Clipper one-hour cruise, which allowed me to get a handful of nice city shots as well.

View of Downtown from along the Mon River

The Point from the Mon


The Point from where the three rivers meet


The Point from the Allegheny (because you have to see if from three sides)

Heading down the Allegheny

Rivers Casino along the Ohio

View heading towards Downtown from the Ohio


View of the Northshore and Downtown from the Ohio


Pittsburgh, how I love (most of) thee!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Vacation all I ever wanted!

We had a fabulous vacation in Ocean City, Maryland, last week. I highly recommend doing a mini-week there if you are within six hours away. Being at the beach for seven nights is a bit much for us; my skin could barely take the four days we were there. And by staying just over half a week, we saved money, obviously. But I do admit I would have loved one more day.

Food was an integral part of our trip. I love to eat. I really love to eat seafood, so I made sure that was part of every lunch or dinner. I also managed a tasty beverage with every lunch or dinner as well. That is part of what vacation is about.

Here are a couple of pics of those:

Delicious lobster bisque

Strawberry blonde ale at brew pub on the boardwalk

Steamed clams from Jonah and the Whale at the end of the boardwalk
You gotta love shrimp in your bloody Mary. But the siracha-sauce soaked beans I could have done without! This was from the Crabcake Factory.
On our way out of town the last morning, when it was pouring rain, we stopped at a "cute" bakery in Fenwick Island.

As a kid, we spent hours at the beach daily (we went to OC pretty much every year). I don't know if it is just that my skin is older, the ozone layer is depleted, or what, but I ended up burnt and with a rash by the second day. This despite my drowning my skin in sunblock multiple times. Still, nothing can beat the ocean.

Here are some shots of that; the waves were pretty tough:

I took this as soon as we set foot on the sand, our first day there. Hello, ocean!


These were the waves our last full day there. We did not go out as far.

 As a kid, our trip to OC was not complete without a trip to an amusement park and mini golf, so we made sure to do both of those things. Many of the rides at Trimper's on the boardwalk are still there, 20 to 30 years later. Unfortunately. I could not get J to go on the ones I wanted to. The four of us did ride the giant Ferris wheel, which gave us a spectacular view of the beach below.

Lost Treasure mini golf

Fore!
View from the Ferris wheel

The place we stayed at was on the bayside, though our place did not have a water view, unfortunately.

Here are couple of shots from our neighborhood:

This was the view behind our place.

Assawoman Bay, at the end of our street.

Geese in the water


Since I am doing my best to maintain my fitness level, I made sure to walk and/or run every morning. It was quite humid the first few days, but being able to walk near water helped temper the 80-degree temps. I save my longest run for the last full day, when it was overcast. I had not run on the beach since I was a teen, I am guessing. Even then I am not entirely sure I did that. It is quite the challenge running along the ocean, but there is not way I could have handled the "regular" sand.

Here are some pics from that morning:

Selfie of my running

Cool shot, I thought

I ran along the ocean. I am pretty sure I ruined my tennis shoes, but I think it was worth it.

I admit my eyes welled up with tears as we drove home. I grew up a spoiled child who vacationed at least once a year. For a couple of years my family had a house on the bay in OC; unfortunately, between two working parents and a six-hour drive, we never made it there more than three times a year. After that we had a house on Indian Lake, which we did visit often. But towards the end of high school, we had some money problems; my parents' divorce followed a few years later, and all of the sudden we were struggling. That experience turned me into a frugal person, which is mostly a good thing. I truly appreciate experiences like these. When you vacation only every few years, you savor the moments. But you also can become sad knowing that you have a few more years until the next one.

I am just glad we had a great time, that J got to have a fun vacation. I appreciated being off work for a week, and the hubby, who hates his job, really was glad to be off. Hopefully my rash will fade soon! But I am more hopeful the memories will linger on.

Here's to the next adventure!


Saturday, June 21, 2014

An update

Once again I have slacked off with posting. I did write about/sing the praises of RiverQuest, an educational boat ride on the North Shore, so please check that out in my previous post below!

Anyway, here is what has been going on in my life since last time.


  • J is done with 5th grade. Hooray. This was a tough year for a number of reasons. She had a lot of HW up until the end; she had only one homework-free weekend the entire year, which I disagree with. She also was no longer friends with the group of friends she had been (their friendships ended at the very end of 4th. Looking on the bright side, we saved some money by missing out on birthday invites, and I did not and will not have to worry about taking time off work to get her to various gatherings held during the week. :-)  I tell J that I went to an even smaller Catholic school and also did not have a lot of friends, but high school and college were different, each better than the previous.
  • Things are still going well at the job. We are slowing down, but I know that won't last too long. If only I had more vacation time, I would take one day a week off during July. But still happy to be employed. 
  • That is one of the things about my working. I finally have money to do (some) things, but I don't have much time. Pre-job I had a lot of time...
  • We are taking our first family vacation in five years this summer. It will also be our first vacation with just the three of us. I am really looking forward to it. I will hopefully have a good post around that. After our failed attempt two years ago, I do worry.
  • We don't have a lot planned for the summer. We did the RiverQuest boat ride a few weeks ago, Kennywood the last day of school, mini-golf the weekend after, and the zoo last weekend. Not sure what else will happen. But June has definitely been busy!
  • I have been getting in to better shape. I participated in a 30-day challenge (30 minutes of exercise) in 30 days. It was a challenge, but I did it. I am still trying to keep up with it, but I am okay with six days a week with close to 30 minutes per day.
  • Someday I will write that post on healthcare. :-)
I hope all of you have a great summer. And I hope I get back here before another month goes by. Oh, and I hope the Pens can find a good coach soon. Who is left?!

RiverQuest

This past fall, I had the wonderful experience of being a chaperone on a field trip to RiverQuest, a non-profit educational organization that operates a river learning center for students, teachers, and the community of southwestern Pennsylvania. During the four-hour boat trip, the students got to examine organisms under microscopes, test water, learn various facts about plant and animal life in the river and environment, and much more.


Recently, I looked up RiverQuest on the great big internet, and I discovered (or perhaps just remembered) that the organization offers Saturday cruises. So I decided the family should go. After a long walk around the North Shore on beautiful sunny day, we boarded the RiverQuest boat on the Ohio River, after having purchased our tickets at the nearby Science Center.

The one-hour trip did not disappoint. The hubby, who was still slightly under the weather, appreciated time in the sun. And J and I did various learning activities. She was particularly engaged in looking at things under the microscope, including some rarely seen phytoplankton. I had fun doing a sand activity having to do with sediment! :-)




We were one of only two families on the boat that afternoon, so we had the undivided attention of the educators. Ever the money-minder, I told them I felt bad that so few people took advantage of this educational and extremely reasonably priced boat ride ($6.95 for children and $9.95 for adults; you would pay way more than that for a ride on the Gateway Clipper). Unfortunately, the org is hurting for money, but they are exploring a partnership with Rivers of Steels. I really hope that works out. I talked to someone at RQ yesterday who was optimistic. She said there was a good chance the Saturday sails would start up again the weekend after the Fourth; right now the last one is scheduled for next weekend.

If you live in or are visiting the Pittsburgh area, please consider taking one of their Saturday cruises. It would be most ideal if you had a child to bring, but I am sure they would be happy to have grown ups as well. Hopefully next weekend won't be the last one. But you may want to check them out on the web at riverquest.org. I am optimistic that we will get the chance to enjoy another ride before the summer ends. I sure hope so!


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Have I mentioned how much I love Phipps?!

Back in December, I posted some pics from an afternoon/evening at Phipps Conservatory. I so enjoyed my time there that I went back a week or so later to get a dual membership. Probably the best $75 I have spent on anything. (And it was more like spending $54 since I was able to put the $26 I spent that evening in December towards my membership.)

Including that time, I have been to Phipps at least five times, sometimes with others and sometimes alone. I have gone to the winter show, the spring show, to something in between the winter and spring show, and then J and I went today, for the summer flower show.

Maybe I will do a post of the spring show, for posterity's sake. But here is the summer show!

Here are some pictures of random, pretty flowers and plants  (I have no clue what is what):


Purple is my favorite color, so of course this is beautiful





Right now there are trains in many rooms.

Love how the yellow and pink/red mix


Here are some pics of the Butterfly Forest. We watched some butterflies come out of their chrysalises, which was really cool.
So neat to watch the butterflies emerge.




Here are some pics of various rooms. We saw the beginning of a wedding in the first room below (we took this pic about 1.5 hours before the wedding started). The last two pics are of my very favorite room there, the East Room.




 Some cool thing outside.


Finally, here are some pics from the Center for Sustainable Landscapes; the last one is a view of the Tropical Forest. Very cool.





Going to Phipps puts me in my happy place. Even better is when I can go during lunch during the week. Well, I can be there only about 35 minutes, plus time to walk there and back, if I want to keep to my lunch hour. But there are so few people there; it is quite peaceful and relaxing.

I said to J that when I retire, I want to work there. Maybe I will!