Breaking news

We interrupt the “All Napa, All the Time” marathon with breaking news. Imagine the tornado sirens going off right now (or maybe that’s just in my head). If you’re looking for news of Day 2 of our recent Napa adventure, you’re gonna have to wait.

Yesterday I did something I haven’t been able to do since The Big Dig. I’m very excited about it. It’s been 5 weeks since the excavation that gutted me like a fish in an effort to restore my post-mastectomy sunken chest. 5 long weeks. There are lots of things I’ve been unable to do, and y’all know I’m a very impatient patient. I tend to rush things and push the envelope, and sometimes that results in a set-back, or at the very least, a lot of frustration for my handlers. I’ve been trying, really trying, to be patient, to not rush things, and to avoid any potential set-backs. I’m not much of a people-pleaser by nature, but I do try to keep my handlers happy. They make a lot of noise when they’re unhappy with me.

I rode my bike.

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Yes, that’s the breaking news.

Hope you were sitting down, because it’s really big news.

See, I’m one of those weirdos who loves to exercise. I’m restless and have a strong “productivity” drive. Like how some dogs have a high food drive, or our crazy dog Harry has a high “must have something to carry in my mouth” drive, I have a high “productivity” drive. I also like to eat. And drink. But don’t like when my clothes don’t fit, a wonky equation to say the least. Some people don’t care much about food, and I don’t understand them. I’m usually planning my next meal as I’m eating the current one. Different strokes, people.

I’ve mentioned before in this space that I’m not good at lying around, being lazy, and doing that thing called relaxing. What is this practice of which people speak? Apparently I missed the memo, because I’m no good at it.

All this to say that being grounded for the last 5 weeks has been hard for me. I’ve really missed my daily exercise. Whether it’s tennis, the gym, or riding my bike, I miss it. And yesterday, I rode my bike.

Glory be!

Macy and I have a routine of riding to the pet store every day after school to buy crickets for Cincko, her leopard gecko. He’s got a big appetite, and I’m always afraid he’ll start banging on the sides of his tank if he doesn’t get fed. He eyeballs Pedey, our little dog, and puffs himself up as if he’s going to attack that dog the way he pummels the crickets who are dropped into his tank. Thus, the need to procure crickets is a big one, and I haven’t been able to ride with her since my surgery.

Yesterday after dinner, she wanted to go for a ride. Not to the pet store, but just around the neighborhood. After proving to myself and my handlers that I could keep up in Napa last weekend, I felt good about giving it a try. I told Macy I’d do a lap down the driveway and see how it felt. A test run, of sorts. If it didn’t feel good, I’d concede. She reminded me not to push it, that we could wait until I was more healed. That child knows her mama well.

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The test run down the driveway felt fine. Felt better than fine: it felt awesome. Other than a little tightness across my abdominal incision, it felt like old times. It’s true that you never forget how to ride a bike, and my muscles remembered how to fire their pistons to propel me forward. I wanted to get down on my knees right there in the driveway to thank the great gods of healing for bestowing their kindness upon my beleagured and battered body. But that would have caused Macy to roll her eyes at me and say that I’m embarrassing her, again, so I refrained.

Instead, we made a 2-mile circle around our neighborhood, dodging pedestrians, watching for bumps in the road, and intentionally riding through sprinklers. We enjoyed the drier-than-normal Houston air and rejoiced in the birdsong. We admired the neighbors’ yard work and  noticed how lush and green everything is in our part of the world.

It was a very good ride.

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Ok, this is the part that my handlers should skip over. Y’all don’t want to read this; I worry about your blood pressure.

As I reflected this morning on yesterday’s ride and conducted my mental inventory of how much my various hotspots hurt, I realized that they didn’t really hurt. Not any more than usual. Maybe I really am healing after all. Finally!

Satisfied, I ran through my workout options for today: I could ride my bike again, I could take Harry for a long walk, I could go to the gym for cardio or for strength training. Then I realized that it’s Tuesday. It’s tennis drill day. I haven’t drilled with my team in 5 weeks. I could go to drill! Yes, I could go to drill. I may have to dust off my racquet, but I could go to drill.

Ok,  handlers, you can start reading again.

Then I realized that I’d better settle down. I’d better take it easy. I’d better ease into it and not go head-long, full-speed into resuming my normal life.

Maybe next Tuesday.


Blogging is like…

Blogging is like having children…you don’t have to be very smart to do it.

I’m making this wildly judgmental statement based on the itty bitty amount of research I’ve done since becoming a blogger.

That tag, “blogger,” still sits a little uneasily with me. I don’t feel like a blogger, and most days I’m pretty sure that what I have to say isn’t particularly important or interesting to very many people. But once I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the tender age of 40, I realized that there were some people who wanted to keep up with the latest on my situation, and that it is completely impossible to convey such news without blanketing and broadcasting. Thus, a blog was born.

It started out as rudimentary thing on Caring Bridge and grew into this.  While this is certainly a step up from Caring Bridge, I still don’t consider myself a blogger. Not that I have blogger’s block (as evidenced by my rambling posts), nor do I suffer insecurity. I simply consider myself a small fish in a big pond. I recently had a little look-see on the blogging scene. Took a peek into what’s out there, and wow, there’s some bad writing, boring topics, and strange people. I’m still a small fish in a big pond, but hopefully this fish writes well about cool stuff and isn’t too strange.

The amount of stuff I don’t know about blogging is vast. It’s humbling and overwhelming but also ripe with potential. Sorta like life. And really a lot like tennis.

“Really a lot” is one of my favorite phrases. Makes me want to watch Broadcast News again (the movie, not Katie Couric).

That’s the kind of thing you can do with a blog — blab on & on about your personal favorites, or complain about things you hate the most.

Top of my list today of things I hate: science fair projects and inappropriate advertising.

Not together, necessarily. Although maybe some kid could do a science fair project on how inappropriate advertising affects people. That kid could start by watching Sports Center, as my kid does every day of his life, and see what kind of filth and scum pops up in 30-second bites around the real stories.

Just this morning, right after a nice human-interest story on James Harrison, the Pittsburgh Steeler who has been called “the most violent man in the most violent of games,” was an ad for the new Matthew Perry sitcom. The ad featured a woman complaining to Matthew Perry about losing her underwear in his apartment, or some such nonsense. It may be a great show, and maybe this is a riveting storyline, but does it really have to be on Sports Center at 8 a.m.? Can’t they just run another Viagra commercial instead?

Another inappropriate advertising incident (or IAI, for short) that comes to mind: while watching America’s Funniest Videos on ABC Family network, my kids’ retinas were burned by the commercial for the new Ashton Kucher-Natalie Portman movie about hooking up. I’m not going to pander to this media monster by adding a link; if you want more info about this utter waste of acting talent, you are on your own.

Looks like a triple scoop of wildly judgmental rants today.

Need I reiterate that this supposedly family-oriented program on a supposedly family-oriented network was rudely interrupted by a grossly inappropriate ad?

Probably not.

And yes, I did contact “ABC Family” to complain. I’m sure they are busy writing me an apology letter contained in a Hallmark card with a gift card to my favorite restaurant accompanied by a bouquet of flowers with a mylar balloon that says, “I’m sorry.”

Moving right along.

Science fair projects make the list because the 6th grade boy who lives in my house came home from school yesterday with some rude news: the science fair project he thought was optional is indeed very much required.

Cue the frantic scrambling and keep your ears peeled for the screeching to a halt of any carefully-laid plans for the evening. The timing of such everyday calamities never ceases to amaze me. Macy and I were just getting ready to clean out her leopard gecko Cinko’s tank, a project I had been putting off far too long. Just as we were gathering up cleaning supplies and girding ourselves for this task, the calamity du jour erupted on the scene.

It took 3 adults, a trip to Hobby Lobby, a pack of D batteries, and lots of beer to deal with the science fair project snafu, and that shamefaced boy was up way past his bedtime, but we got ‘er done. I can say with absolute certainty that his project would make a Tiger Mother shake her head scornfully at the lazy and slovenly habits of my kid, but that’s ok. Those Tiger Mothers freak me out a bit anyway. But if you feel the need, you can read all about it here: http://www.amazon.com/Battle-Hymn-Tiger-Mother-Chua/dp/1594202842/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1296051025&sr=8-1.

On second thought, that looks kinda messy, so try this instead.

I told you I’ve been studying up on blogs.

It does help to have an in-house IT guru (thanks, Trev).

I have a lot more to say about Tiger Mothers but will save that for another day. Because today’s topic is…

Um, I’m not really sure.

It started out as one thing but morphed into something else. That happens here a lot.

Oh yes, now I remember: things I hate.

Or was it things I’m wildly judgmental about things about which I’m wildly judgmental? (hey, this blog has some pretty nifty features.)

Or was it how stupid science fair projects are and how they should be banned outright from all the public and private school systems in the world?

I have no idea.


The little zookeeper

Those of you fortunate enough to know my daughter Macy know she has a love for animals that’s as big as Texas. She’s said from her earliest days that she wants to be a vet and a zookeeper. I can think of no other vocations more suited to her, and despite the fact that she may end up at Texas A&M (oh, the horror!) for vet school, I support her.

Getting a little ahead of myself, again.

Keep in mind that we already have two dogs and three fish in our house, and that on any given day I’m meeting myself coming & going just keeping up with the necessities of getting through the busy day. So when Macy asks for another animal for Christmas, I heave a big sigh and think, what’s the best way to change the subject?

This isn’t the first time she’s asked for another animal. In fact, every time we go to the pet store she lobbies hard, and that girl is persuasive. Factor in my own love of animals, and we’re lucky we don’t have more of a menagerie around here.

I knew we were in trouble this time, though, because the only thing on her Christmas list was an animal. Uh oh.

A note about this child: from the moment we saw the sonogram image of her in utero we knew she was different. Different, good, that is. That first image showed a beautiful profile with her tiny wrist laid flat against her forehead in classic Scarlet O’Hara pose, as if from the very beginning she was thinking up some form of drama to unleash on the world.

Macy has never been like other girls. She never liked the Disney princesses, and to this day can be heard muttering under her breath when she comes across one of them on TV, “That Belle is so stupid.” When all the other little girls were having a Tinkerbell-themed birthday party, Macy wanted a barnyard theme. When all her little preschool classmates were tottering off to ballet class, she was in the backyard, digging for worms and filling the birdfeeder.

So it should come as no surprise that this fiercely independent girl not only goes her own way (despite the crowd), but has stayed true to herself for all of her 8 years. Her love of all creatures is here to stay.

While her first choice for a new animal was a chinchilla, the $150 price tag turned me off, and Trevor has a strict “no rodents” rule, so she moved on to a turtle. I told her that, while fascinating, turtles stink and I’m not sure they like to be handled, so she may be disappointed with a hard-shelled creature. Next up was a bearded dragon. Considering they grow to be 3 feet long and eat live mice, the answer was not just no, but no way.

Cue the leopard gecko.

Macy has taken care of a friend’s leopard gecko, the beloved Rico, so she (and we) knew what they were all about. So I went to Petsmart last week to look into it, see what all we would need to make her Christmas dreams come true this year.

There was a sale on leopard geckos. I love a good sale. However, that also meant, as the reptile lady pointed out, that they were selling more of the geckos, so I might want to go ahead and get mine and avoid the risk of coming up empty-handed when I was ready to purchase. Tricky sales technique, and it worked.

I brought the little guy home and set up his tank, with the two lamps and fake plants, the cave and the water dish. I put the mealworms in the fridge and thought about the best place to hide him. I settled on the guest room closet and when the kids got home from school, told them to stay out of there.

All was well. Or so I thought. I snuck up to the guest room to feed him the mealworms twice a day and to switch the lamps from day to night light. I thought I was being pretty sneaky. But a few days ago, Macy came downstairs with a very long face and a worried countenance.

After some coaxing she finally came out with it: she’d been looking for her clipboard and found the tank in the guest room closet. She was afraid she’d be in trouble, but truth be told, I was relieved that I was no longer in charge of the gecko’s care. I didn’t realize how stressful it was to keep him under wraps and alive until Christmas.

So we moved him from the guest room to Macy’s room, and she was tickled pink to know that she was the proud owner of a leopard gecko. We were busy getting his lamps plugged in in her room and so it was a few minutes before she decided to lift the cave and lay eyes on her new creature.

This is what she found. (Don’t look if you are squeamish.)

Sorry it’s graphic, but that’s life, people. The new gecko had dropped his tail. Apparently it’s common as a defense mechanism (when they’re being hunted) or in times of stress. Guess this little guy was stressed about his new home.

Ewwwww, gross.

But the little zookeeper wasn’t grossed out, she was worried. She was afraid he was going to die. Cue the tears. Merry Christmas, everyone.

After some quick Internet research, she was reassured that he was ok, this was something that just happens and that his tail would grow back in a month. We made another trip to Petsmart to treat him to some live crickets (gecko comfort food), and all was again right in our world.

This isn’t Macy’s lizard (didn’t want to subject him to even more trauma, so we skipped the paparazzi), but this is what his behind looks like.

Kinda creepy, if you ask me. But as the little zookeeper later explained, it’s all part of life, for a gecko.