Halloween at Midlife. Now that’s scary.

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Well, Halloween at my midlife.

You know the hardest thing for me writing about my life these days?

It’s writing about my life these days.

Honestly.

Because I don’t want to think about my kids getting older and things changing and me not being able to have a pumpkin carving contest, making their costumes and controlling my little Halloween family.

Those nuclear family snapshot moments are so few and far between these days.

Or are they?

That’s what has got me stuck. Changing my emotions and idea about what makes Halloween.

Of course, this is not just about Halloween. It’s about everything changing. But the last few days, my thoughts have fixated on Halloween because we have family Halloween rituals.

Such as:

* the Blood sacrifice of one lone squirrel. Preferably the one whose fat self is gorging on my dear beauty cardinal’s sunflower seeds.

* Burning a left whisker plucked off our almost black cat.

No sillies.

Every year. I mean EVERY year, we’ve all carved a pumpkin and held a contest. Now that our oldest is away, there are only four pumpkins but this year, we recruited a child off the streets so we could have five.

I gave my daughter the camera.

 

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This cracks me up. I’ve got my sharpie and the knife. And the horrid stuff on my arm is the aftermath of poison ivy. Only positive is that it’s cut down on the amount of gruesome makeup I’ll have to worry about this Halloween.

 

 

 

 

 

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Nope. Every year I wonder if they’ve genetically engineered pumpkins without the goop.

 

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I can’t believe he actually ate this.

Okay. Back to my midlife Halloween crisis. Every year I’ve done a face. Like for 20 years. Then I look over at my husband and he’s carving hearts into his gourd. The man — I married 25 years ago — who has always carved a face in his jack-o-lantern carved three hearts.

HEARTS.

Is this guy having an affair or what? Nothing but hearts on his pumpkin?

It’s like the lid for traditional pumpkins I had so carefully counted on every year was obliterated. Blown away.

My goop-eating son was carving something that can only be described as the continent of Africa on his pumpkin.

My daughter impaled hers with toothpicks. It looked familiar.

Hellraiser. I had to google it but that was her pumpkin.

I always wanted creativity to reign in my home — but here. Now. With pumpkins at Halloween?

Was I strong enough?

I stared at my orange gourd with knife in my right hand. A blank canvas. What would I create for this Midlife Halloween? Some smiling melon like always or something new, fabulous and self-aware?

What was my breakthrough pumpkin going to be?

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I looked skyward and saw the moon.

And like with most things in my life such as SAT answers and which way to turn on my bike, I went with an instantaneous impression.

The moon. It’s a sign. That’s it.

So I carved a crescent into my pumpkin.

It looked like a no-eyed jack-o-lantern with a crooked smile. Really crooked.

Drat. Stupid.

So I threw some stars in there to take up space.

And that was it.

 

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My daughter’s Hellraiser with my husband’s hearts in background.

 

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I’m carving a moon and stars in my jack-o-lanterns. At least I’m not going to a Halloween party as a zombie geriatric prostitute from the bowels of the Bourbon Street Studio 54.

Nope. That was last year.

This year I’m looking forward mellowing out, gushing over the teensy trick-or-treaters, eating way too many Butterfinger nuggets while lighting our eclectic pumpkins.

And embracing new traditions.

Okay, I so laughed when I typed that. I don’t do new well.

And what say you oh Halloween celebrants?

 

 

A Dream Home at Lake Oconee.

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Two weekends ago, mom and I headed to the Lake Oconee Living Dream Home at Lake Oconee.

First of all, I love the peeps at Lake Oconee Living because well, they give me work. And secondly, this was a great event for a great cause.

This beautiful home was outfitted by the uber-talented Shane Meder. I wish I had thought to take a selfie of Shane and myself while I was out there…. but I didn’t.  I got to spend a few hours with Meder a few years ago when writing a piece on his awesome lake cottage. He is riotous fun and a super generous fellow. And it would have been the most fun to insert a cool photo of us both here but . . .

no fear because I have some most excellent photos of the house to share.

 

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Mom loved this fabric on the dining chairs

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Celebrity cook Nathalie Dupree was on hand in the kitchen. I wonder if she is there every day preparing basil and bologna sandwiches for lunch?

 

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None of my photos of the master bath are really all that great — and that is sad. Because this probably was the most amazing private bathroom I’ve ever used.

Okay. I didn’t shower there. Though I was tempted. And I only tried on a dress or two.

 

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Upstairs held the rooms for the visiting grandchildren.

 

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The home theater.

 

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And the home gym.

 

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The outdoor space is what you would imagine on the lake.

Spectacular.

 

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Now if you’d like a great read and see some professional photos of the Dream House interiors pick up a copy of Lake Oconee Living.

 

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And I had the pleasure of writing the blurb on the beneficiary of the Dream Home, ESP — Extra Special People. An organization providing after school programs and summer camps for special needs children covering a 10 county area. They are hoping to get their dream facility started soon and the proceeds from the Dream House weekend hopefully will be a big boost to their fund raising efforts.

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And if you’d like to enter the raffle for a new F-150 click here. Each ticket you buy is a  chance at the truck and half the money will go back to ESP for a new wheelchair accessible van.

It was a beautiful dream home to dream about.

If you could do a dream redo of a room in your home, what would it be?

 

 

 

Ten Things Thankful: Fall Road Trip addition.

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Oh dears. I shan’t even look at the last time I posted.

I need to go back over the last few weeks and put a few great things – down.

Ten Things Thankful: Fall Break with the Kids Addition.

Hadn’t visited my sister and nephews in Sarasota for a while. So the two youngest and I piled into the 2001 Infiniti and headed southward down I-75.

 

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If I kept giving them ice cream — they couldn’t yell at each other with their mouths full.

 

10. So thankful said Infiniti ran great all 8 hours.

Nothing like having a car that’s paid for and runs great.

 

9. Electronic devices.

Though I believe hand-held, mind-numbing devices will be the end of the civilized world – they do come in handy on an 8 hour drive.

 

8. No bloodshed.

 No bloodshed on drive down I-75. Thanks to the evil electronic devices for kids and talk radio for me to listen to. With no satellite radio in my 2001 wondermobile, I take what I can get in range. Which ends up being a little NPR, Hannity and Sports radio. I find the truth is somewhere in between.

 

7. Florida is good.

Okay. There has been way too much change in the state of Florida since my birth. Good change being the advent of my nephews, central air and Disney. The two latter have been the catalyst for most of this change (good and bad), but that is another column entirely.

Sitting out at my sister’s house, on a lake, in a quiet hood (except the occasional shrill of the a Sandhill Crane) reminds me of what was good in my childhood.

 

6.Siesta Key.

 

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 Siesta Key is the bomb. This from a girl of the Atlantic Coast. Just one afternoon there with my toes in the sand and the sun damaging my neck, makes up for 25.8 rainy winter ones in Central Georgia.

 

5. LegoLand.

 

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This requires explanation. You know how mothers wring their hands and wipe tears away as their child graduates from elementary school. Seems like I do that with theme parks.

I figured that the kids and I would do a theme park as we headed northward. Busch Gardens would be a likely stop and my kids would love it. On the other hand, I was far more calculating. I didn’t mention Busch Gardens and only suggested Legoland saying I had a great coupon deal, which was true.

Here’s the motive behind the madness of a middle-age mom wanting to go to Legoland. I realized this is the last time my 10 year old would probably even consider going to a theme park that’s target market is 4-year-olds and grandparents with lots of money.

I love Legoland. There I said it. And this was the last time, I had a legit reason for going.

 

4. Never underestimate the power of a water gun fight.

The kids were complaining, as a teen and tween are wont to do at Legoland and then we found the Chima water gun ride.

I now know the key to world peace is to get all the countries – the crazies and borderline crazies – into a room with water cannons.

Everyone will be laughing and best buddies in the end.

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3. Did I mention the water cannon ride? Adults enjoyed this more than the kids.

 

A selfie while I'm under attack.

A selfie while I’m under attack.

 

 

 

2. I lost my keys.

Yes. After a full day at Legoland, it’s a slight bummer to go out to your car and discover your keys missing from your backpack. But thanks to my always prepared mummy, there was a spare in my wallet.

 

 

1. Margaritas.  Well, actually a margarita. As in one. The kids and I pulled off the interstate for a night’s stay in Gainesville. As I went out prowling Archer Road like the huntress I am – I spotted a Chuy’s. We voted and decided a sit down meal was best way for mom to recoup for the day.

Filled with chips and with a slightly happy margarita mind, I was glad that we had taken off four days ago.

Thankful even.
Road trips, yea or nay?

Ten Things of Thankful

That garden gnome is messing with my head.

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It all started with a cup o’ dirt.

 

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This one.

I took it up to our local county extension office, paid my $7  and sent it away to be tested by the most intelligent agriculture folks at the University of Georgia.

And this is what I got back.

 

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A soil report. Which is of course what I asked of them.

Here’s the sticky part.

Now the onus was on me to do something.

See the marks on there. That was done by Madison’s own Al Kimsey when I went to his place of business to rent a tiller.

“See, this is nitrogen, this means something and this means potassium,” Al said while marking up my report with his pencil like Miss Annabelle on my first grade grammar tests.

I nodded.

“Seems you don’t have any nitrogen.”

Nope. I had a garden in search of some N. What also struck me is how all that nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus stuff rolled off Al’s tongue as easily as I might say, “Why did he throw into that coverage?” watching the University of Florida next Saturday.

I don’t know about soil like that. I yearn from the deepest part of my dirt smudged little toe to know farming like that.

But all I can do now is read my report from the good folks at UGA agriculture.  And they said to add nitrogen.

So I did.

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I choose to ignore any symbolism in the state of my lawn Gator and the state of the UF’s football program.

 

 

 

I got everything planted last weekend. And all was soooo good.

Or so I thought.

A few days ago, I noticed a few things looking a little puny.

 

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A mustard green on life support.

And broccoli looking like this.

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So to replace some of the dead weight, I bought some arugula, kale seed and rosemary.

 

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These bitty things are kale seeds.

 

So I broadcast them expertly in a proper soil trough.

 

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Okay. So I clumped them in there any which way.

 

 

 

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Maybe it’s not my soil that’s the problem? Maybe it’s a gnome with an attitude.  Jani, see how I carefully replanted my onions? I took hours selecting the perfect spot for each one.

 

I was out there this afternoon sowing my row of kale and planting my arugula.

Tomorrow I’ll pot this rosemary.

 

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It sits waiting carefully out of the sight line of last summer’s rosemary.

 

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I sit here typing this with dirt crammed under my fingernails. I was so happy that it spit rain Sunday and Monday after I planted and then how it was very warm the last few days.

Things will really grow. I just knew it.

And things seemed to die.

No. It’s not that bad — really only a few plants are tanking —  but it makes me a little mad how capricious this farming life is. You pour all you have to give into a massive 15 X 20 plot of Georgia clay and then to have it fail . . .

 

I’ve got my eye on this guy.

 

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Thoughts on being the “Old Freak” Room Mom.

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Some of you might have seen this recent FB post of mine.

 

 

 

My 10 year old could live with the embarrassment of me going to his class to talk about saving pop tops if:

 

a)  I washed my hair.

 

b.) Didn’t wear make-up. Because when I wear make-up I look like a freak.

 

Not just any freak.

An old freak.

 

I get it.

 

Every child looks at his mum through the hypercritical magnifying class of 4th grade peers.

 

NOTHING needs to stick out.

 

NOTHING should be different.

 

My dad had a buzz cut way after all the other dads were letting their hair grow. It made me CRAZY. My dad drove a BEHEMOTH station wagon while all the other parents sported about in  1970’s imports.

 

Or even better.

 

They dropped of my elementary school classmates in a Vega.

 

Even after all these years I still get a chill looking at this photo.

 

 

Yes. My parents were older. Therefore they were unhip.

 

But I’m so cooool. Okay I’m older, but don’t my kids know I’m the only mom in the universe that has ageless hipster-ism?

 

Of course, they don’t.

 

Because I don’t.

 

I’m a 51-year-old mom with 51-year-old skin and 51-year-old hair.

 

Fifty-one year-old hands –uugggghhh the worse part.

 

Now this is not a pity me post. Heavens no.

 

I’m older but I’m wiser. I can roll with some pretty tough sh*t that’s been sloshed my way.

 

I look fine for my age.

 

But I need to keep bathing and tone down the make up.

 

At least on the days I’m heading up to the elementary school.

 

What do y’all think? Have your kids reached the age of my parents’ are the worst embarrassment to mankind?

 

 

Ronald McDonald House of Central Georgia. I’ll supersize that.

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There’s been something I’ve wanted to share with y’all.

Last Sunday, my RMHC running buddy and I went to Macon to visit the Ronald McDonald House of Central Georgia. The one where the funds from our Miles of Miles TeamRMHC RunDisney efforts are headed.

I guess it’s the journalist buried deep, deep within my can’t-we-just-all-get-along facade that needs to understand things.

More than a surface explanation, if possible. Since this was possible for us, only an 75 minute drive — if you don’t get stuck behind a logging truck on Hwy 129 — we scheduled a visit.

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“Sorry folks. We’re closed. Clown out front should have told you.”

 

 

No sillies.

“Clark, they don’t close the Ronald McDonald House.”

Of course they weren’t closed.

So I walked up to the intercom, rang the buzzer and a very nice male voice answered.

I explained who we were and why the heck we were there.

And Chuck buzzed us on in.

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Chuck Kent and his wife Jennifer were the volunteer resident managers last weekend. And that nice fellow Clark — er, I mean Chuck — gave us the tour.

The lower two floors are the common areas with the guest rooms on the upper floors.

A few photos.

 

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The main living room.

 

 

More of the kitchen.

 

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They have quite a large kitchen equipped with everything you need to whip up an ice cream sundae or a hamburger with a little of that special sauce.

Chuck explained volunteers provide dinners most nights and brunch on many days. But anytime, day or night, residents can raid the pantry for a PB & Honey. My new personal favorite. Or find the fixins’ for whatever vittles might bring you some comfort.

Every drawer was labeled and the larder full. Chuck said the only rule is “clean up after yourself, just like at home.” At this remark I might have cast a sideways glance at my 10 year old.

 

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The rooms upstairs were just like you’d find in any nice hotel. With the exception of no television. The T.V.s are all downstairs. Which honestly, sounds wonderful.

There was a child’s playroom. A teen cave. A laundry.

I learned today that this very playroom is Charlie’s room. The wonderful Jana Anthoine is the reason I was introduced to running for this wonderful cause. This room is named for her infant son who most tragically died from Group B Strep complications.

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I don’t do the “ask for money” thing very well. But after seeing and hearing about RMH firsthand, I’m excited to have an opportunity to help.

Chuck said that they only ask families for $15 a day compensation. But no one is ever asked to leave or turned away because of inability to pay. They money that we are raising goes directly to helping fund a day’s rest for weary, worried parents and siblings.

The Children’s Hospital is right next door. A preemie easily can stay up to 90 days at a medical center. If your home is 64 miles away — what do you do? Leave the bitty love behind?

Chuck said their granddaughter needed surgery at Egleston in Atlanta. Their family was able to stay at the RMH at Emory. “Once you have ever had any experience with a Ronald McDonald House — you feel compelled to volunteer and donate your time.”

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When leaving, I felt compelled to take a photo with Ronald. My son was not so sure. After taking this pic, I realized I should have let my son hold the camera out, so he would have been in the frame.

But good luck getting a self-conscious 10 year old to retake a photo sitting on a bench in a public area with a plastic clown.

No. I had one take — and this was it.

 

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Not much else to report about our visit, other than heaven forbid — something happens to a child you love. I now know of the all the good the clown in the yellow jumpsuit does.

Any donation is so very appreciated. Fifteen dollars is all it takes to house a family for a night.

Have you ever wanted a selfie with Ronald McDonald?

Question is my feeble attempt to engage comments with readers of this blog. pooh.

 

Running with the Fuzz.

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Has anyone born before 1990 ever heard of our fine officers in blue as the Fuzz?

I thought not.

Today my TeamRMHC running buddy and I headed to nearby Covington for the Fuzz Run. I had done this race once before. It’s always a big fun crowd.

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Here we are before race.

Always falling near the 9/11 anniversary, the presenting of the colors and the national anthem seem — to me — a smidgen more poignant.

 

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The crowd at the start.

 

 

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Takeaways.

Tons of kids in this race. If you want to do a 5K with your child and live in the Georgia Piedmont, this is your race.

 

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I’d have more pics of the cute children but my son was getting miffed at me for tweeting as he called it. I wasn’t tweeting btw. It’s called a serious blogging journalist trying to get shots of children running with their parents.

Our first water break and I had the camera poised on my buddy and this was the shocker.

 

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My son — handing me a cup of water.

And who said chivalry was dead?

I did. Just yesterday.

Chivalry lives. Maybe it’s on lift support.

But there is a heartbeat.

Great race for my son. Our training has paid off and this was his fastest time in a 5K ever.

Well, I think it was.

Off to Macon tomorrow to visit the Ronald McDonald House.

Stay tuned.

 

Never underestimate the power of an Arnold Palmer.

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Or a curly-headed child, holding a lemonade stand sign.

 

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My 10 year old and I are proud members of TeamRMHC — Team Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Georgia. Our group of almost 200 runners from around the U.S. is raising money and logging the miles to prep for races at the 2015 Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend.

All team members pledge to raise at least $750.

Joe and I needed a little jump start to our efforts.

I baked cookies. Brewed tea and put tons of sugar in it. And googled what lemonade mix tastes best.

Dad made a few signs and I put them in Joe’s hands. Out front of the house.

 

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Our first customer. Neighbor and all-around-good-guy, Rob Jones.

 

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I really wish I could have photoed everyone stopping by — but I was too busy.

And kept pushing Joe out on the street corner.

 

 

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Thanks. Thanks to all who came by.

 

—  The teachers we hadn’t seen in a while.

—  The people who saw Joe as they were speeding by and took the time to circle back around the block.

—  For the people who read a Facebook post and got in their cars to drop by.

—  For the nice man from Kenyon, Minnesota. A truck driver whose friends had told him, he needed to stop one day and take the walking tour through Madison. He remarked most Minnesotans don’t know where Kenyon is. I told him my husband was from Wadena and asked if he knew where Wadena was?

“Any Minnesotan who drives truck knows where Wadena is.”  Wonder if he knew my husband and his friends affectionately refer to Wadena as The Wad on the Prairie?

—  For the nice folks who stopped from Watkinsville. Tennessee fans who noticed my Gator flag asked if I was from Florida. Well, turns out that a cute woman in the back seat and I went to the same high school. And she was the same class as my sister. Go Wildcats!

— For folks, complete strangers who stopped and were so generous.

— Honestly the pilots, dancers, artists, moms, grandparents with visiting grandchildren, former mayors, lawyers, teachers, yogis, lobbyists, personal trainers,
dads, foster parents, truck drivers, school bus drivers, IRONMEN, cyclists and horse-rescuers  —  all who took the time to walk up, drive up and chat — were generous.

— Loved meeting a woman pushing a stroller, who said that they had to stay in an Atlanta Ronald McDonald House this spring. And how wonderful they were. Got her number for a later post.

— The amazing folks who stopped when it was just me alone out there. Joe did start taking some breaks from the heat at the end. Anyone who would stop for a 51-year-old women sitting behind a Sharpie lemonade stand sign is tops in my book.

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People saw this and stopped anyway.

 

— We raised $366.39.  Do you believe it?  All this is going into Joe’s fund.

 

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Air kisses all around. Such a great morning.

Here’s our team page. Any donation is so very appreciated.

Will post our progress on the blog. We plan to visit the Macon Ronald McDonald House next weekend.

Linking up with the grateful gang at . . .

 

Ten Things of THankful

 

 

 

My bike. #SOCSunday

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I’ve seen where @susannabarbee and @jaimemckee have been doing a Stream of Conscious weekend link-up.

I met these two women at Type-A Parent Blogging Conference a year ago. It’s been fun to see how their social media/writing/blogging careers have progressed in the last 12 months.

And me?

Well  . . . .

So I’m going to hop on their linkup this beautiful afternoon and take a well-deserved break before I start transcribing an interview.

Setting the timer for 5 mins and just writing.

 

Wait a sec — I’ve got to set my timer.

 

GO

I’m sitting outside on the porch because it is absolutely gorgeous out here.

A little warm, but I’m shaded and heck. I just like warm all over cold and wet.

While out here, I’ve noticed a number of bikes going by.

I’ve writen about riding my road bike, but I haven’t talked about my other bike. My cruiser.

See.

 

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I try to ride this guy when I have little errands in town. I ride it to the bank. The tellers love it. But you do have to balance on the curb while the little door swings out. Then I drop letter off in the box, and cruise to my workout at the gym.

You know what brought the enjoyment level of my bike to a new level.

A basket.

Now I can drop all my little trinkets in there and head off.

Now I do feel a little like the witch in the Wizard of OZ and I must look a bit silly but I’m okay with it.

Because I feel so young on my . . .

 

Okay. Not the most inspired writing. But it was fun. Just like me and my bike and a sunny day.

 

 

Doster Road. No Brakes Allowed.

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The other afternoon with a sky as clear and blue as an aqua cat’s eye marble, I pulled my bike outside. As the heavens arced overhead and the pavement rushed underneath, even the trees stood still. No wind except the rush of air created by speed.

Perfection.

Even though I only had an hour, a little voice nudged me to Doster.

For those not familiar with the roads crisscrossing Morgan County, Doster Road rolls through some of the most scenic pastureland in the county.

There are a few steep hills. Riding out from town, you get to go down.

Coming back toward town you climb up – but climbing the mountain clipped into a bike is another post entirely.

About five miles out of town, I approached the hill. After cresting the top, bike and I hurled downward. Still operating as a team.

Now my bike computer has decided not to work. Hate it when that happens. I can’t track of my speed but I’ve been down this hill enough to know — without braking — I’ll hit about 35 mph.

Here’s the headcase part. I haven’t done Doster much this year. Maybe twice?

And rushing downward that day, my hands twitched to squeeze the brake. A slight quicken in my pulse. You better slow down heading into the turn toward the bridge.

I can ride this hill without braking. I’ve done it lots. What was my hesitation?

And just like that, therapy happened.

Relax. Trust yourself. Put your head down and ride.

I exhaled. Bent over the handlebars all the while my hands hovered over the brakes. Well you never know if a heat crazed doe is going to dart out.

And blink.

I was down the hill and over the bridge, pedaling back up the next incline.

Why was the urge so strong to brake going into the turn?

Fear of course, but fear of what?

How many times throughout my day, my week, the years, my entire life – have I put on the brakes mi-experience rather than exhaling and

And enjoying the hell out of it?

Sometimes a gal’s just got to get on her bike and ride.

Roger Taylor’s relentless drumbeat guides my down pedal many a ride.

What can I say? I shall always be a child imprinted with AM radio and 70s music.

 Thoughts?

&

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

           

           

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NaBloPoMo November 2014

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