Thursday, April 21, 2005

Dead Ringers

Out here in the blogosphere, we often are left wondering what faces might go with some of the posts we read. I've posted a small pic of myself, but you probably can't tell from it that some people think I resemble Nicole Kidman. Now how cool is that, to be told that you look like one of Hollywood's most beautiful women? Trust me when I tell you that it is very flattering, but I admit, I'm not sure if I believe it. I don't know. Why don't you tell me. Here's a pic of me with the hubby at last year's office holiday party.

Batter Up!

Last night was our first t-ball game, and I was surprised by how much fun it was. In t-ball, the game is played a little differently than regular baseball, because everybody is just trying to learn. So when the team is on the field, everybody is out there. And when the team is batting, they go through the whole lineup so everybody has a chance at bat.

DD2 played between 1st and 2nd base. This was a pretty important position, because a lot of the balls go that direction. Most kids will let the ball roll between their legs, but DD2 was able to stop most of them that came her way and throw them to the first baseman. If he caught the ball, which sometimes he did and sometimes he didn't, they got the kid out.

It was pretty cool, watching DD2. And she was second in the batting lineup. She's actually better at hitting balls that are pitched to her, rather than hitting the ball off a tee, but everybody used the tee last night. I think she'll be cleaning the bases before too long. (She's number 13, by the way.....bad news for every team in the league.....)

DS played behind the 2nd baseman last night, where I'm sure he picked a bald spot in the grass. Hehehe.... But he didn't get that option in the next inning.

It was the last half of the last inning, and we were waiting for one player to get on the field. I was standing behind the fence with my camera when I saw that player walk by, engulfed in shin guards, padded vest, and caged helmet. I recognized that walk, but, still doubting, I did a double-take of the player's number. 11. My DS.

He didn't really do much catching....just wearing the equipment is enough for a 4-year-old to focus on at one time. At one point he lost his balance and fell over. The coach behind him had to call a time-out and pick him back up. (I really gotta get a digital video camera.)

So that's the news from down south!

Visiting God's Country

I am here at work, not wanting to be at work, because I spent last week on vacation, and it was such a nice vacation....sigh. We went to West Texas and hubbed out of my father-in-law's house in Pecos. We camped out two nights at
Davis Mountains State Park, and then two nights at Big Bend National Park. We could've easily stayed another week.

The first night in the Davis Mountains, we were in over our heads -- literally. Our heaviest sleeping bag is
rated to 35'F. We were expecting overnight lows in the low 40's, maybe upper 30's. We were so cold, we slept with our heads tucked under the covers, trying to hold on to as much body heat as possible.

In the early morning, my husband had had all that he could take, and he went to the Suburban to warm up (leaving his sleeping bag spread out over the girls). The Suburban's rearview mirror has a digital thermometer, and he said at 5:30 that morning, it was registering 28'F!!!! No wonder we were freezing our buns off!

The second night we were better prepared. DH put two sleeping bags in the Suburban for him and DS. We zipped two bags together for me to share with both girls, and then we laid the 5th bag over us. We were quite toasty.

But, seeing that her efforts to freeze us were being thwarted, Mother Nature threw something else at us. Around midnight, I awoke to the sound of a freight train bearing down on us! Winds had picked up tremendously, and gusts were shaking our cabin tent back and forth like a carnival ride.

During a lull in the storm, DH came out and asked if we wanted to get in the Suburban. Both girls were still sleeping, so I opted to stay in the tent. I suspect the Suburban was probably shaking even more violently than the tent, since wind was able to sweep underneath it. Surprisingly, the tent held. Oh, and so did the Suburban.

At Big Bend, we stayed in the Chisos Mountains Basin campground. The first night there was Part II of the wind storm. How was I supposed to listen for hungry bears if the blasted wind was going to constantly rustle the tent to and fro? At least it was only in the mid-40's.

And happily, the second night in the Basin was quiet and comfortable. One good night's rest out of four. Jeez!

While at the Davis Mountains, we took the kids to our favorite picnic spot, The Rockpile. The kids are all finally physically mature enough to do some serious climbing -- and to get into some serious trouble. We were constantly reminding them to wait for everyone, to not run ahead, etc.

I also discovered that I can be a little phobic. While they had already started climbing, I was trying to situate my digital camera bag onto my belt. They got to quite an altitude before I even started, and I felt rushed to catch up. But when I surveyed the path they'd taken, I suddenly found myself momentarily paralyzed by fear.

It seemed like I couldn't properly gauge distance, that my depth perception was off. How was I going to keep from falling if I couldn't even predict when my foot was going to land on rock? It was very strange.

I'd climbed it before, though, so I pretty much told my fears to shut up and I started up the rock anyway. After I got started, I was okay the rest of the way.

We also found a couple of places where we could go on a horseback ride. Prude Guest Ranch charged $20/person, but kids under 6 weren't allowed. Lajitas Stables was more expensive, but they didn't have a problem with letting a 4-year-old ride.

Torn between the cost and the knowledge that I would be terribly disappointed if I didn't get to ride a horse, DH offered to let me go on a ride by myself. I thought about it, but I knew that the kids wanted to ride, especially DS. They'd be just as disappointed as I would be.

So I convinced DH to forget about the money and let's all go. DS rode double with me, on a tall sorrel named Riddler, and we all had a good time.

At Big Bend, we didn't have much time to do a whole lot. We took one of the shorter, easier hikes to the Hot Spring that flows into the Rio Grande. DH and the kids got soaked while I walked around and took pictures.

Spring, by the way, is the time to visit Big Bend, if you ever get a chance to go. The wildflowers were absolutely breathtaking. The prickly pear were only beginning to spring forth; had we waited a week or two, I think we would have really been in for a show! (I'm not a religious person, but I have to say that I think God really enjoys showing off this time of year.)

We got just enough of a taste of Big Bend to know that we want to go back this summer and really hit the trails. I sent out an email earlier this morning to DH's brothers and sisters, to see if any of them are brave enough to join us. We'll see who bites....

No Foot, No Horse

I've had flat feet my whole life. Flat as a pancake. They have always been a source of embarrassment for me. While others had gently curving arches, my arches lay firmly on the ground, causing my ankles to roll in and the outside line of my foot, the part that goes from the heel to the little toe, to curve outward.

"What's wrong with your foot?" Cynthia Black once asked me in fourth grade. "It looks like a banana."

I looked down at the offending appendage. It was clad in what was called a "track shoe," a flimsy piece of black canvas attached to a quarter-inch-thick rubber sole. They were nothing like the space-age pieces of engineering we wear these days. They didn't even offer any arch support. But they were popular then. Everybody wore them.

I ignored Cynthia's question and shifted my weight, using my calf muscles to pull my ankle up to form as straight a line as I possibly could. That helped to disguise the fact that I had flat feet. Years of practicing that maneuver has kept my shoes from developing the tell-tale sign of over-pronation: a wearing down of the inside of a shoe's heel. But that's about all it saved.

I'm 37 now, and one look at the soles of my feet tell the story. What would be my arch, if I had an arch, is thinly calloused. And under my big toe joint is a very thick callous, the result of years and years of its bearing the weight of my body all by itself as I put one foot in front of the other. My 3rd, 4th and 5th toes on each foot are bent somewhat and calloused on top; staying away from those ridiculous high heeled and pointy-toed shoes has kept the severity of that condition to a minimum. Miraculously, I don't have hammer-toes.

Genetics are catching up with me, though. I have arthritic bunions the size and shape of New Jersey on each foot. I've experienced ball-of-foot pain, heel pain, shin splints, a fractured 5th metatarsal, countless sprained ankles, and other pains that I haven't discovered the official name for (except for OUCH). An ongoing, internal dialogue of late goes something like this:

"You need to call the doctor."

"It doesn't hurt that bad. In fact, it barely hurts at all right now."

"But you could barely walk on it last night."

"I know, but it was fine when I got up this morning. I just need to replace my worn out shoes."

"It could be more serious than that. Maybe, just maybe, she might find a solution for you."

So fine. I just called and made an appointment with my PCP. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Fast Times

"Mary, you gorgeous girl, you. You turn me on, but I'm happy just to be your friend. Love you lots, Ray."

Remembering Ray, I smile. I haven't seen him in 19 years, but looking at his 16-year-old face brings back memories of my senior year at Mexia High School and 7th period study hall. He and Willie, both sophomores at the time, sat across the table from me and kept me entertained (i.e., prevented me from studying) from 3:00 to 3:45 every day, Monday through Friday. They were such nuts.

Paging through my Class of 1986 Memories book, I'm reminded of what a goober I really was. Even my handwriting was gooberish. Big and loopy. And all I wrote about was my then-boyfriend, Tommy. "Dating Tommy for 1 month!" "Went to Homecoming with Tommy!" "Dating Tommy for 3 months!" "Christmas with Tommy!" And there are hearts around Mark Harmon's and Tom Selleck's names.

Somebody shoot her. She deserves to die.

And I guess in a way, she did.

I read the messages from old friends:

"Do you think the world is ready for a couple of great minds like us! (ha, ha)"

"I truly admire you."

"I hope our friendship can continue to grow."

"I hope we remain good friends forever."

"You are the most vivacious and happy person I know, sometimes it makes me sick, but almost all the time it makes me smile."

"I will miss you."

"I'll never lose touch with you."

"You are so much fun to be around."

And my personal favorite: "One more thing, come to my next party and we'll all get naked ok!" (I guess that's my favorite because at age 18, "getting naked" was about the last thing I would have considered doing. Thanks for remembering me, Steve.)

I'm 37 now, and that 18-year-old girl is a mere memory. I haven't a clue who she was.

And by summer's end, I'd lost touch with nearly everyone who signed my book, though I didn't know it at the time.

Karen went to UT. I heard she got married a couple of years later to a church music minister.

Rhonda eventually went to A&M. She lived in the same apartment complex as me, but we never hooked up.

Mike went into the military, got married, got divorced, and then faded away. Of them all, I think I miss him the most.

Leslie went to community college, got married, and had a passel of kids. Say what you want about that, but the last time I talked to her, she seemed very happy. That was well over a decade ago.

Angie got married.

Bill got married.

Ann got married and divorced.

And I never saw Steve again after graduation.

And so it goes with most people. Life just gets in the way. Sometimes tragically. Jaimie committed suicide. Theron died from cancer. And Chris was in a terrible car accident that left him permanently disabled.

I think about them all, and I get sad. I wish I'd had time to really get to know them. I wish I hadn't let the door close. I wish, I wish, I wish.

Then I read Ray's message again. "You gorgeous girl, you. You turn me on." And I smile.

You know, Ray, you were kinda cute, too.