Monday, December 31, 2007

More Vomit

Today I am cleaning up kid puke.
It's Kool-Aid red.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Dog Puke


"Eh?" I was startled awake, but just enough to answer, not enough to be alarmed.

"Mommy, Maisie puked on the carpet in my room."

!#&%effing dog.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Oh, yes...Today's Gratitude...

Today's Gratitude:

I am thankful for my giant hairy friend.

Even if she is a whiner. :)

Scared-y Dog

It's been rainy and gray all day and now the wind is starting to pick up. The Hairy Monster hates it when the wind blows.

I took the day off from my grueling work-out schedule because my knee has been hurting (whine) and I'm up for a lower body day that consists of two-bazillion lunges and at least as many squats (whine). Instead, for my day of rest, I took Maisie for a walk (hopefully) long enough to keep her from waking me up in the middle of the night to (whine) tell me the wind is blowing.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Universal Law of Attraction

I love Christmas. I haven't always, but once I took my focus off of what I'm 'supposed' to do (or be or get or give) and put it on being grateful, things just seemed to fall into place.
I AM Grateful.
I AM blessed. :)

I am reading The Secret. I've read other books about the Universal Law of Attraction. To some extent I've practiced it. That's where the gratitude came from - focus on the positive and positive is what you'll attract. It doesn't seem all that far-fetched, really. Think about the office (or workplace or school or wherever) complainer. That person has something new (and all the old stuff, too) to complain about every day.
Every. Day.
No matter what, that person is whining and bitching and moaning. Does it do them any good? Hell, no. Wallowing just adds to their misery (and everyone else's, too).

So, what if you looked at it the other way? Find positive things to focus your energy towards. I CAN do that; it's simple if I just quit bitching long enough to take a look at my many blessings. When I focus on the GOOD, I feel better. It doesn't matter if I get rewarded for that or not (though attracting more of the good would be a great perk), it makes me feel better Right Now (and instant gratification is a good thing, no matter how mature I think I am).

For 2008, I intend to focus on my many blessings.

Today's Gratitude:

I am thankful for my husband and his level-headedness and constant love.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Adventure Race!

I've been doing my end of the year evaluation: Where was I this time last year? Where am I right now? What did I do to get here? Where do I want to go? What is it going to take to get there?

I do take a holistic approach, but my main focus is on fitness.
It is a fact -taking into account my entire life- that my physical fitness level is a direct (and brutally accurate) reflection of my life as a whole. If my body is in good shape, my mind follows. If my mind is in good shape, I'm generally happy and well adjusted and making progress to become a better person physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Start with fitness and everything else follows.

So, for me 2007 has been productive. Perhaps not as productive as I'd like, but definitely an improvement. I'm not arguing with improvement; I'm patting myself on the back.

I'm more physically fit than in 2006 on all three levels: cardio-respiratory, strength, and flexibility. I've lost some weight. Not as much as I need to, but I'm going in the right direction. I am nowhere near where I was in, say, 2003, but I'm headed back to lean and strong. My injuries are less bothersome, my body doesn't hurt and scream in protest when I get out of bed in the morning, and I can run again (yay!). My head is clear, I'm generally grateful and happy, my marriage is good, and I've had a few things published this year. Pretty darn great.

So what about 2008?
In 2008 I intend to be a great mother and a wonderful wife, continue to improve and practice the art of writing, publish more of my work, open a coffee shop, lose the rest of this pesky extra weight, and get back to lean and strong (using my fitness level of 2000-2004 as a benchmark to strive towards).
Because I can use my fitness level as an accurate gauge of everything else, my physical training needed a boost of inspiration.
This organization, Adventure Pursuit, puts on this Adventure Triathlon! I've always wanted to do a triathlon! I've done quite a few running races: 5k, 10k, and even a 1/2 marathon, but I've never done a triathlon and I AM EXCITED!
It's not a traditional triathlon (run, bike, swim) because the swim is replaced with paddling (remember I mentioned wanting a kayak - this is why!), but I'm not a big fan of swimming anyway. When I saw this I knew I wanted to do it - never mind that I've never been in a kayak in my life. I do have some canoe experience, so that may help. I hope.

I have to go. I have bread rising that needs transferred to the oven. We're going to a party tonight and I have stuff to do.
Don't worry - you have not heard the last of this adventure racing stuff yet. Far from it.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Flooded Driveway

PC took this picture. That's me on the other side of the bridge. I walked down with Maisie to get a look at the waterfalls (I'll see what I can do for pics of those, too). PC and the kids were on the road side of the bridge in his truck taking a look at the flood. Yep, there's a little wooden bridge under the water. It's been there for at least 40 years, so other than a little erosion around the edges, it's still in good shape now that the water is back down.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Holy Crap. (or Power & Rape)

As most of you who read this blog already know, I live in rural West Virginia.

It is a fact that West Virginia has been plundered for our rich natural resources -particularly coal and natural gas- for generations.
It is also a fact that most of the income from these resources are funneled out of our state because, among other reasons, the people who can afford to extract these minerals do not live here and do not care diddly-squat about what happens in (or to) these beautiful mountains once they've made their monetary gains. This was, in large part, true with the hardwood raping clear cutting that decimated our forests around the turn of the 20th century. It has been, and continues to be, true -repeatedly- with coal mining and natural gas exploration.

I will spare you my tirade of sick and disgustingly true facts related to mineral right acquisition, coal camp living conditions, environmental destruction, and political thievery. If I were to go in that direction we could be here all day just to harangue the injustices of the past.

That was not my intent.

My intent is to point out that the rape continues.

Here in Taylor County, a large coal mine is slated to start production as soon as next year. This is an entirely new endeavor and it's huge. The mine entrance will be less than 5 miles away from our home and the underground long-wall mining will come as close as a quarter mile from us. We are lucky. Many, many of our friends and neighbors will be undermined. Historically, coal mines have not been found to be financially liable (or liable at all, for that matter) for property destruction - including homes, businesses, water wells, acid mine drainage and resulting contamination, etc.
This time it's supposed to be different. At least that's what they're (politicians and coal company) saying. And although everyone WANTS to believe the sincerity of this assurance, it's impossible to prove their legitimacy until after the damage has already been done, documented, and compensation requested. Only then will we know for sure if the coal company will (or will be forced to) take responsibility for whatever destruction that has resulted from their activities. There are a whole slew of legal issues that come into account here and, though I drift even further from the intent of this post, I will add that our state representatives have passed laws that make it easy for out-of-state companies to come in, destroy, pay off politicians, take the money and run.

Money talks and bullshit walks.

There's a gazillion things wrong with this whole set-up (but don't label me as anti-mine, because I'm not -though that belongs to a different discussion altogether), but -again- I need to steer back towards my point:
Because the mine is so close, the new activity is hard to miss: the logging, the road improvements, the bridge building, survey crews, etc. As a part of the increased activity, I've been seeing dozens of large red trucks. Some are tankers, some are cargo haulers, some are drilling rigs, some are unidentifiable. But the one thing that all these large red trucks have in common is the 'Halliburton' logo (that, and they all drive too fast on these winding one-and-a-half-lane country roads, but that, too, belongs to a different discussion).

Being nosy inquisitive like I am, and having a high-speed internet addiction like I do, I googled it.
Halliburton is a multi-national corporation that specializes in "Oilfield Technologies and Services." So, yeah, that makes sense, but I didn't have the sense to stop at that reassurance.

I kept looking:
"As a public company with more than 45,000 employees and operations in more than 70 countries,our No. 1 priority is to offer competitive, safe and superior quality products and services. And as global corporate citizens we understand that the sustainability of our business also depends on how we interact with our world. As the search for new sources of energy takes us to many different places around the world, every action is guided by our vision:
"To be welcomed as a good corporate neighbor in our communities; to do no harm to the environment; to provide demonstrable social and economic benefits through
sustainable relationships, sustainable technology and sustainable sourcing; and to validate our progress through transparency and reporting."

Oh, good. It's a good company that believes in safety, protection of the environment, and maintaining good relationships through disclosure and, I'm assuming, integrity.

Well, that sounds good, right?

Right. And sometimes I'm a gullible idiot.

This is information taken from the Halliburton Wikipedia entry:
During the 2000 Presidential election, Dick Cheney retired from the company with a severance package worth $34 -get this!- MILLION dollars.
A severance package for retiring? That's only one of many, many things wrong with that statement. And I suppose if you already know that you'll end up as vice president even before the election you can afford to retire. Oh, yeah, with that kind of jack-pot, it wouldn't really matter, would it?
And $34 MILLION? Doesn't that imply some sort of really deep connection? Or maybe it was just a friendly gesture with absolutely no implication of anything -then OR in the future.

It gets worse.
Here's a short list; just a beginning, really:
  • The War Tapes: a documentary of the war in Iraq with film footage shot by US soldiers. Halliburton is notable here because, according to Wikipedia, they are mentioned to be charging the US $28 for each disposable plate that is used to serve meals to our soldiers.
  • There were hearings on Halliburton and clean water supplies for our troops (failure to provide) by the Democratic Policy Committee. Here's the same thing, but another hearing from another date.
  • Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers. A documentary film detailing the screwed-up-ness of private companies profiting from the war effort. Details the notorious security firm Blackwater, but touches also on Halliburton. I'm sure that any relationship between these decisions to privatize many of these services and the contracts that are awarded to companies with ties to some of our most powerful political figures are pure coincidence.
  • Here's a news item from CBS from today, "Halliburton Under Fire Over Rape Charge."
  • And from here's a quote from a Halliburton article over at CorpWatch: "This company truly has a guardian angel: former Halliburton CEO and now Vice President Dick Cheney who looks out for its interests from the White House. The result? $8 billion in contracts “rebuilding” Iraq in 2004." BILLION? Did you say $8 BILLION (I'm yelling louder here than I did for 'Million.' Can you tell?)
  • Halliburton has been so dirty and crooked that they have their very own Watchdog group: Halliburton Watch.

This picture came from the site. I think it speaks for itself.

Now why do you suppose the federal government has been pushing for petroleum and natural gas exploration? The gullible idiot part of me wants to believe in the fairy tale of political and personal altruism, but the rest of me knows better.

West Virginians, beware!
We have rapists in our backyard.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

It's still raining!

Screech called me from school to ask if I'd pick her up. At first I thought she was sick, but school is being dismissed early because of flooding.
So, sure, no problem. I'll pick them all up because the bus route goes through some tight spots right along Sandy Creek which can get really high pretty fast.
The only problem is our bridge is flooded! I can't get out! I drove down the driveway not really thinking anything about it, but when I rounded the turn it was obvious that I wasn't going anywhere. Unless I wanted to try it, and then I'd be going over the falls. But, nope, not trying it.

Fortunately, PC is making the rounds (3 kids at 3 schools). They'll end up at The 123 because they can't get home.

The bridge should still be there when the water goes down. I'm not sure I want to be the first one to try it out, but it has been there for a while - 40 years? I know it survived the big flood of 1985 because the neighbor was telling me about him and his wife using a rope tied off to a tree to drag him through the water. Yikes! Scary. And cold.

I feel totally ineffective. I can't get anywhere to do anything so I've been on the phone trying to get through to the schools, "Do not put him on the bus!" was essentially the message. What would happen if I wasn't calling? If I didn't know they were coming home early? If the kids got off the bus (assuming the bus driver would let them off with Swamp Run crossing our driveway) what would they do? Surely, with that much water they would know not to try to cross it. Surely. It's a little scary to think about. I think they'd know to go to H's and not try to cross....?

Before all this rain started, I'd decided I wanted a kayak. Hmmm....

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Snow Day II

We did NOT have a repeat of the Treadmill Phenomenon today. I told everyone that it was my workout time and I intended to get in a good workout so, unless someone was bleeding, I didn't want to hear about it. They were kind enough to put in last minute requests before I descended into the basement. (It took me another half an hour to do it all, but it was worth it because I got my hour of quiet. Well, almost quiet; let's classify it as minimal thumping.)
I had to:

  • make peanut butter sandwiches.
  • find two AA batteries for Grunt's camera.
  • fix the printer so Screech could print out some fish pictures to finish off her school project.
  • feed the dog.
  • unzip a winter coat with a broken zipper.
  • give instructions on which household chores needed to be done (haven't I done this about a gazillion times already?).

In the end, I got a great workout.

This afternoon we baked bread as a warm-up prelude to Christmas cookies.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Treadmill Phenomenon

Today is a SNOW DAY. The kids are ecstatic (and ecstatically fighting) and it's still snowing. Hard.

If you're a parent, you are aware of the Telephone Phenomenon. And for those without children: It's when you get on the telephone and everyone in the house all of a sudden needs something.

I had forgotten, until today, that this attention-hoarding behavior also applies to the treadmill.

Today's Treadmill Phenomenon movie: Child#2 (Screech) thumps down the stairs from her room and across the floor above my head. She thumps down the basement stairs and begins to scream, "Mom! Mom!" While she is in the process of telling me her room is flooded, Child#3 (Dozer) thumps across my head in hot pursuit. He doesn't even wait until he's downstairs before he's screaming, "I did not! I did not!"

At about this time, two smaller elfin children clop down the stairs carrying between them what is left of an air rocket launcher. (J--- and L---. These two children are neighbors. They are very small and quiet compared to my screaming heathens. They are welcome here at anytime, mainly because they give me hope of a quieter, calmer, saner universe.) There is a long clear tube with a round accordion type bellows that is supposed to be stepped on in order to push air through the tube and into the rocket launching pad which is a flat plastic platform with a hollow, rigid plastic tube that points straight up into the air. A styrofoam rocket sits on top of this and can be launched into the air about 50 feet if a child jumps onto the accordion. Or at least it would launch if the dog hadn't eaten the rocket last week.

I am just now feeling nice and warm and moving easily. I'm watching the little stick man on the treadmill display run around the imaginary track at an amazing speed (alright, amazing might be stretching the truth a little bit). Over top of two screaming, arguing children I hear an elephant coming down the stairs and the house shakes (I'm not kidding about the house shaking). Child#1 (Grunt) stumble/thump/bang/wallop/whacks his way into the basement in the teenage sprawling way he has of taking over the entire house and comes to stand behind the four younger children. His hands are shoved in his pockets and he looks bored. (How the hell can you look bored when the decibel level is enough to break eardrums and the small people are jumping around like a herd of kangaroos?)

"Mom, can I go over to S---'s house?" Grunt asks. He can't be serious, can he? Dozer now has hold of the rocket launcher by the hose and begins to whip it around. The children scatter and Grunt ducks. Screech moves in closer to shove a wet monkey (evidence) in Grunt's face and he pushes her back. She stumbles and falls against J--- and L--- and tumbles these two small children like bowling pins. More screeching ensues.

I push the red 'Stop' button.

I calmly inform everyone that I am in the middle of my workout and they cannot -must not- interrupt me.

"Go clean it up," I say to the girls.

"Leave that here," I say to the rocket launcher.

"What are you going to do at S---'s?" I ask Grunt who towers above the younger children and parts them like the Red Sea as they scuttle back towards the stairs.

"Sled," is the one word answer. It sounds rather like a 'grunt.'

I push the green button and begin to walk, slowly moving back up to speed.

"Wait until I'm done and we'll talk about it," I answer. He grunts in reply and shuffles away.

*** Okay- here's the reality: 1. I might not have been quite as calm as this account makes me appear to be and 2. the last time Grunt went sledding over at S---'s house (February 2007), he broke his arm.

Really, I was not calm at all. At all. I yelled something like, "Why is it that as soon as I get on the treadmill everyone needs something?" And I yelled the "Go clean it up" line, too. "Leave that here" was somewhat quieter, but they were already scuttling by that time.

"Wait until I'm done..." was spoken in a quiet, calm voice. And he didn't argue (write that on the calendar).

Last year, in February, Grunt asked me to take him over to S---'s to go sledding. He and all his friends are HUGE. Nearly full-grown, but they still play like a rolling, tumbling pack of puppies. In other words: They are Dangerous. So, I agreed to drive him over there, but I requested that he find his wrist protectors to wear underneath his gloves. I believe his response was something like, "That's stupid. Nobody has to wear wrist protection for sledding. That's stupid. What? Do you think I'm gonna break my arm? That's stupid. I'm not gonna break my arm. What? I could slip and fall just walking out the back door. Do you think I should wear them all the time? That's stupid."

Note the abundance of, "That's stupid." The previous winter he'd gone snowboarding in Colorado and broke his arm on his first run. He was not wearing wrist protection.

So, last winter, I agreed to let him go if he had his wrist protection on. Assuring me that it was very stupid, I dropped him off and came back home (it's about two miles over there). Ten minutes (yes, just ten minutes) after I got back, the phone rang. It was Grunt telling me that he hurt his arm and it was bad enough that I should come and get him.

How stupid am I?