Friday, June 25, 2010

Ask Atgatt Girl - SUPER!

Atgatt:  All The Gear.  All The Time!

Dear Atgatt Girl,

I am a new motorcycle rider, but so far I've just been riding my brother's extra bike.  How should I go about choosing a motorcycle for myself?

Valerie Star
Yamaha, PA

Dear Val,

Congratulations on contemplating taking the plunge into motorcycle ownership!  That's very exciting.  I know it can probably feel a bit daunting at first to consider all of the different motorcycles available.  In my own search for my first bike, I took several things into account.  Over the last 6 years of riding I've tried to keep them in mind as I continue to look at new motorcycles.  You know, because a girl can never have too many motorcycles, right?

There are basically 5 main things I consider when looking for a new motorcycle.  If you just remember that motorcycles are SUPER, you'll be all set.  SUPER stands for Size, Upkeep, Price, Extras and Ride.

Size:  I think one of the most important factors is how a motorcycle fits you ergonomically.  Whether you are short or tall, find a bike that you are comfortable on.  I'm a short girl (5'1" without boots on) and since I was a new rider, I wanted a bike that I could comfortably "flat-foot" when I was stopped.  Motorcycles are heavy (between 500 and 1000+ pounds) and I didn't want to have to worry about the bike tipping over on me because I had to balance the weight on just one leg.  You also want to make sure that you can comfortably reach everything with your arms and legs.  Lots of new motorcycles have the foot pegs placed closer to the front of the bike than the middle.  When that's the case, even if I can touch the ground when I'm stopped, I can't reach the shifter or brake while the bike is in motion.  That makes actually operating the bike extremely difficult, to say the least.  Make sure the distance to the handle bars is long enough or short enough for your arms to comfortably reach for an extended period of time.

So, when you're out looking at motorcycles, {carefully} sit on them!  Make sure that when you sit on the seat, you can reach the foot pegs.  The showrooms generally have enough space between bikes for you to stand the bike up while sitting on it, so do that.  Get a feel for how heavy it is and whether you think you'd be able to lift it off of it's sidestand several times without being exhausted.  Turn the handle bars a bit to make sure your reach is long enough.  Don't worry.  They EXPECT you to do this!

Upkeep:  This is where knowing yourself and how much you like doing your own "wrenching" comes in handy.  Do some research on how much maintenance a bike takes.  Talk to a motorcycle mechanic (or search the web).  Some bikes are built like tanks and you can practically run them into the ground.  Others are a bit more touchy and require a constant eye.  What is the routine maintence schedule for the bike (generally it's either every 3000 miles, 4000 miles or 6000 miles)?  If you like working on the bike yourself, what kinds of skills are required to do that routine maintenance?  If you don't like working on the bike yourself, how much are you going to have to pay someone else to do the maintenance?  (I like to call that the "How much to take away my pain?" test.)

Price:  Speaking of "How much to take away my pain?", let's not forget about the purchase price of the bike!  If this is your first bike, I definitely recommend looking into used bikes.  You can usually find them very reasonably priced with very few miles.  Also  know that, just like with cars, some bikes are just going to be more expensive because of the name on them.  When I bought my first bike, I didn't have the scratch for a Harley Davidson (what my brother drove) or a BMW (what Troy rides).  There were lots of affordable options made by Yamaha and Suzuki though.  I bought a Yamaha for about 1/4 of what a Harley would have cost me and I've been more than pleased with my choice.

As well as the purchase price, take into consideration what the insurance will cost on the bike.  Sport bikes are generally more expensive to insure than cruisers.

Extras:  For some motorcyclists it's all about the extras.  They like to farkle (a combination of "function" and "sparkle") their motorcycle with GPS Systems, auxiliary lights, radar detectors, etc.  If this is something that interests you and a motorcycle that you are considering already has some of these things, great.  If those items are not already on the bike, make sure you check to make sure adding them would be a possibility.  Specifically find out whether you would need an extra power source to power those devices as they can pull quite a bit of juice from the battery.  In addition to all of the electrical gadgets, I also take into consideration things like saddle bag space and pillion (passenger) seat back rest, since those are things that are crucial for me to stow gear on longer rides.

That brings us to the Ride:  Find the bike that fits the type of riding that you will be doing most.

My first bike was a Yamaha V-star 650.  That's a 650 cc engine.  When I got it, the bike seemed big to me, but my brother said I would be unhappy if I got a smaller bike and I would have been.  I routinely took it to the same shop for any maintenance it needed.  If there was a leak of some sort, I got it checked out.  I rode the heck out of that bike.  But that was the problem!  For the long-distance, high-speed riding that we were routinely doing, the 650 was the wrong choice of bike for me.  Unfortunately none of my (FORMER) mechanics clued me into this fact and as a novice rider, I didn't know any better.  I thought it was normal for your hands to go numb and to have a pounding headache at the end of the day from the vibration of the bike.  As an experienced rider, I now see how silly that sounds, but back then I just didn't know any better.

I learned the hard way what an appropriate bike for the job feels like.  After a major tran$mi$$ion failure on a ride to St. Louis a few years ago, I happened upon a Yamaha V-star 1100.  {cue the angelic chorus!}  THIS is the bike I should have had from the beginning.  Although it looks nearly exactly the same to the casual observer, the real difference is shown with the twist of the throttle.  When I take it out on the highway, I have been known to hit 90 and not even realize it.  By comparison, on my old bike, the fillings in my teeth being shaken out of my head told me when I had hit 80.

So figure out what kind of riding you are going to be doing and pick the bike that works best for that job.  If you are just going to be commuting to and from work 10 miles away, maybe that little 250 cc engine will be just what you need.  If you are young and fun (and don't have any back problems), a sport bike may be just the ticket.

Just remember as you go out to look for a motorcycle of your very own just how SUPER fun it can be!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Does bribery work?

Okay, kids!  I plugged Sasha's entry into the Indianapolis Humane Society's Poster Pooch contest the other day and got an okay response.

So, perhaps I should up the ante.  Originally I promised a prize worth $25 if Ms. Sasha received at least 150 votes.  Perhaps I can go one better.  Here it is:

If Ms. Sasha receives 150 votes, 1 lucky winner will receive a $25 Target Gift Card.
If she receives 250 votes, I will give away TWO $25 Target Gift Cards.
If she receives 500 votes, I will give away THREE $25 Target Gift Cards AND if I have 100 followers, 1 lucky follower will receive an additional $25 Gift Card.

I know you can rise to this challenge and help support all of those loveable animals at the Indianapolis Humane Society.  Each vote is just $1 and the minimum number of votes is 5.  Once you've voted, either leave a message here or on the original post.  There's no need to be a follower, but if you are, that gives you another chance to win.

Thanks so much for reading my blog and voting for such an adorable dog.

If you would like to do more than just donate and have a place in your home and heart for a new family member, the Humane Society is running an adoption special until the end of the June.  IndyHumane is flooded with hundreds of unwanted cats and dogs, and until the end of June you can adopt any animal one year of age or older for 50% off their regular adoption fee!  That 50% off adoption fee includes microchipping and spay or neutering.  If you are looking for a pet, this is the perfect time to go down and check out all of the available fuzziness!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sasha's Shameless Plug

I believe in putting my money (and my blog) where my mouth is.  I don't often plug things on here, but I'm doing it now....shamelessly.

The Indianapolis Humane Society is a really great organization that is supported solely by donations.  They are a no-kill shelter.  That means as long as an animal is healthy and adoptable, they can live at the shelter for years.  There is no expiration date on an animal simply because they've been around too long.  Consequently, personal donations of food, supplies and money are the livelihood of the facility.  They hold several fundraising events each year.  Among these events is the Mutt Strut.  It's held at the beginning of May and it's touted as a day when the track goes to the dogs because it happens at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Sasha and I have attended the last 2 years and while this year was a rainy mess, she had a blast in 2009.  There are lots of great vendors giving away free samples of food and offering medical check-ups for dogs.  It's just an amazingly fun doggy day.


So, here comes my plug!  Each year all the participants receive a t-shirt as part of their registration costs.  On the front of that t-shirt is the photo of the "Poster Pooch".  I would love nothing more than for Sasha to get to be that Poster Pooch for the 2011 Mutt Strut.  (I mean, seriously!  She's adorable!)  Here's where we need your help.  Go here to vote for her.  Each vote is $1 ($5 minimum) and ALL proceeds go to help some of our neglected, furry friends.  Right now she's waaay behind in the voting.  It's totally my fault and not at all a reflection on her lack of cuteness.  Did I mention that she's seriously cute!?!  The 11 runners-up will be part of a photo shoot and a 2011 doggy calender.  She'd be cool winning that if she can't have the top prize.  She's a giver, ya know!

Do you need more motivation than her fuzzy wuzzy muzzle?  Oh, okay!  If the great Sashinator receives more than 150 votes, you will be rewarded.  I will give away a prize package (worth at least $25) to one lucky voter.  Simply leave me a comment telling me that you voted and you'll be entered.  No need to become a follower.  Of course, if you want to be kept aprised of the contest, you might want to anyway.

Thanks so much for your time and your donation.

Stop by tomorrow to find out about the amazing adoption deal that the Humane Society of Indianapolis is having right now.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Ask Atgatt Girl

Atgatt:  All The Gear.  All The Time!

Dear Atgatt Girl,

I've been considering learning to ride a motorcycle of my own.  I've ridden on the back of my boyfriend's bike for a few year, but I see other women riding their own bikes and I wonder if that might be something I could do.  What 3 things would you tell women who are thinking about learning to ride their own bike?

 - H Davidson
   Sturgis, SD

Dear H,

Thanks for writing in and congratulations on thinking about joining an elite class of women.  As Virginia Slims say, we've come a long way, baby!  Female riders are an ever increasing portion of the field of riders and luckily our voices are being heard by the manufacturers of motorcycles and motorcycle apparel.

I know that from my own experience, thinking about learning to ride your own bike can be a bit overwhelming.  When it comes to learning the ropes, the first 3 things I would say would be:

1.  Take a motorcycle safety class!  In Indiana, motorcycle safety courses are offered through Abate of Indiana.  Something similar exists in every state.  For me, this step was a life saver!  Before my class, I had never been on anything with 2 wheels other than a bicycle.  The classes can usually be taken over the course of a weekend or several evenings during the week and cost less than $100.  Small motorcycles (around 250cc engines) are usually provided and they are taught by certified instructors.  The classes are broken down into a textbook portion and a riding portion.  They are held on a closed site (usually a large parking lot), so there is no other traffic to worry about.  They will teach you everything from the very basics about your motorcycle to how to stop quickly without laying the bike down.  At the end of the class, there is a written test as well as a basic riding test.  If you pass these tests, you will receive a certificate of completion and (at least in the state of Indiana) a waiver of the riding test when you go to get the motorcycle endorsement for your driver's license.

Some of you may have boyfriends or husbands who assure you they can teach you to ride.  I beg of you, kindly DECLINE their offers.  I have seen way too many conflicts arise from this scenario.  For instance, while your husband/boyfriend may be a patient, caring man.  I assure you if he has been riding for any period of time, he has picked up some bad riding habits.  You are better offer learning from someone who is not emotionally involved and who is an expert motorcycle instructor.  I promise.

2.  Get appropriate riding gear that fits you and wear it!  I'm certain to rile up all kinds of talk on this one, but I believe in riding gear.  That's what ATGATT stands for.  All The Gear All The Time.  I've noticed an interesting phenomenon.

Invariably when I see a man and a woman riding together (either both on one bike or each on their own bikes), they are always similarly dressed.  I'm not talking about matching t-shirts or helmets.  I'm saying that if her man is comfortable riding in a do-rag, jeans and flip-flops, more than likely, a woman is gonna be wearing similar items.  If you are going to start riding, please don't do this.  You need the proper gear.  That means pants, jacket, gloves, boots and a helmet.  If your man loves your beautiful legs wrapped around him, then shouldn't he want you to keep them looking beautiful?  Nothing is LESS sexy than burnt flesh on your thighs from hot pipes or worse.  {WARNING.  Do NOT click here if you have a squeamish stomach or don't really want to know what road rash looks like.}

Motorcycle gear for women has come a LONG way.  Manufacturers have finally figured out that we aren't just smaller men and that we come in all shapes and sizes.  I'll cover more on what to look for in gear in the coming weeks, but First Gear has some really great looking, high quality, reasonably priced gear for women.  I wear it and I love it.  While quality riding clothes may be pricier than your husband's old motorcycle cycle jacket, just remember that $1000 in gear is worth $10,000 in skin grafts.  It may not be pretty, but it's true.

3.  Ride your own ride.  Let me say that again.  Ride your OWN ride.  I'm not talking about the motorcycle that you sit astride, but the manner in which you navigate that motorcycle.  If your riding companions think you take too long to put on your gear or you don't ride fast enough, say ok ... and then ride your own ride!  Tell them you'll catch up with them at your destination or just that you'd rather not ride with them that day.  It is so important, especially in the beginning, that you not ride beyond your comfort or capability.  This is your safety that they are messing with and you are in charge of it.

This doesn't mean that you'll never ride with them, but it's important that you find your own "riding voice".  Troy and I have very different riding styles.  He has been riding for well over 25 years.  I have been riding for 6.  He LOVES the twisty roads where he can lean his bike over until hard parts scrape.  I would rather open up the throttle and whiz down the open highway at 85 mph.  (Sorry, mom!)  I wasn't able to say those things in the beginning without thinking I wasn't a "real" rider because I was comparing myself to him.  The important thing is that I know it now how I like to ride.  We still have very enjoyable rides together.  We simply find a path and a destination that both of us can enjoy.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Sex and the City" and summer motorcycling!

Wednesday night my girls and I went to check out the new(ish) "Sex in the City" movie.  As we nestled into our theater seats, we practically had the place to ourselves.  I know the critics have panned it, I actually enjoyed (most of) it.  I can honestly say that the writers have matured the characters of Miranda, Carrie and Charlotte (in a good way).  The three of them are each married to men who seemingly adore them.  Carrie is struggling with settling into married life with Mr. Big.  Miranda is trying to balance being a wonderful attorney with being an equally wonderful and attentive mother.  Charlotte is having a crisis of conscience as she tries to come to terms with the fact that her 2 lovely daughters, who she wanted so desperately for so long, are driving her insane!

One of my favorite scenes in the movie is where Miranda and Charlotte are comiserating about the difficulties of motherhood over a cocktail.  They both clearly love their children, but they are sometimes overwhelmed as well.  I'm certain that most mothers feel this sometimes.  So, while the writing might not be the most clever ever put to paper, the conversation seems genuine and cathartic for both of the women.

My heart also broke for Carrie as she called Mr. Big after an encounter with Aiden.  She is obviously in anguish and desperately needs a response from Mr. Big, which she's not receiving.  The angst she exudes is not of the teenage variety, but instead it is the genuine misery of realizing the consequences her thoughts and actions may have.  It was a great example of truly figuring out what we as women need and want. one (huge!) gripe about the movie was Samantha.  While Miranda, Charlotte and Carrie had tender moments of insight and true feeling, Samantha seemed like more of a caricature.  Yes, she's always been bawdy and sexually forward, but things have gone waaaay too far in this movie.  I'm sure for some, it's what they've grown to love and expect from Samantha, but I guess I was kind of hoping that at 52, she would have matured a bit and learned something more than just how to stay hot enough to land a man.  Perhaps, as a single lady, I am too sensitive, but it's as if the writers couldn't come up with a plot line for a single woman that consisted of anything deeper or more interesting than chasing pants.


Moving on............

Some serious, mad, crazy props go out to Troy!  Summer is upon us and for me, that means riding season!  There's just something about the smell of the open road and the roar of the engine when you twist the throttle that makes all the worries of life just melt away.  I planned to ride my motorcycle to meet the girls for the movie, but when I went out to start the bike, it wouldn't turn over (DESPITE being on the battery charger for the last few days!).  Ugh.  My heart sank.  I knew it was time to get a new battery.  The problem was that it was 5:45 and I was pretty sure the bike shops would all be closing in the next 15 minutes AND I needed to get to the movie by 6:30.

After I called around to a few places, I finally found a battery for my bike in stock at Cycle Outfitters.  I had kept Troy apprised of the situation (I can totally take care of these things myself, but it's nice to have someone there to back you up).  He asked how late they were open (8 PM, woohoo!) and offered to go pick it up for me.  What a man!  Score!  By the time I got home from a lovely evening with the girls, he had prepped my bike so that he could show me how to install it.  (By the way, it was easy peasy and I totally could have figured it out on my own. was very nice to have his help.)  Thanks to Troy's generosity, I was able to ride in to work the last few days!  Woohoo!

Speaking of motorcycling, I've had quite a few friends lately who expressed an interest in taking up motorcycling as a hobby.  So with the start of summer just a week away, I thought I'd take one day a week to talk about some of the things to consider when thinking about learning to "ride your own" in a series I'm calling "Ask Atgatt Girl".  Come back tomorrow for her first installment.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

NOW - Journalling

"Each of us is many women, and each stage of life offers the potential for discovering new freedom, new growth, and new pleasures."  - Penelope Washbourn

"I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better."  - Maya Angelou

I am not a writer.  I never claimed to be since I'm really a mathematician.  But over the last few years of blogging here, I've actually learned to enjoy writing a bit.  I love it when I find a witty turn of phrase or when I'm able to convey or evoke true emotion with mere words.  As I go through my day, I think, "Oooh!  I need to write something about THIS!"  It's a powerful thing for me to share my life, loves and woes with the world.

But so far, that's where all that written sharing has stopped.  I have a stumbling block when it comes to other sorts of writing.  The real thorn in my side is journaling, as in keeping a diary of my day to day life.  Oh, how I wish I had journaled my life up until now.  I'd love to go back and look at what I really thought the first time that I hopped on a motorcycle or to read how I felt the first time I was kissed.  What were my thoughts upon graduating from high school or what were my hopes for my brother on the day that he married the first time?  Sure, I can remember bits and pieces of what I thought and felt then, but those memories are being remembered through the filter of the person that I am today.  They are remembered with 20/20 hindsight and that can distort things.

So, what keeps me from doing it?  I think there are several things.  When I was younger (high school aged), I think my fear was of my diary being read by my brother or parents.  It's not that I had anything to hide.  Believe me!  I was about as squeaky clean as they come!  But when you're a teenager, having someone find out about your crush could very well be the end of the world.

Then as I got older, when I read what little I had written as a sort of diary, I was very judgemental of what I had thought or felt just a few months earlier.  After having my heart broken, I would mentally scold my former self for having let myself get hurt.  Or if I read how excited I was at the beginning of an undertakement that had failed, I would chide myself for being such a fool and believing I could succeed at something.

Over time, this sort of mental badgering takes a toll.  I learned to protect myself from being hurt emotionally so that I wouldn't later be ashamed of myself.  I learned not to take chances or to voice an opinion because people (even me) remember what you say and can use it against you....even years after you've grown to know better and to do better.

That brings me to who I am today.  I've learned a few things in therapy the last few years and it's about time I put them into practice in my real life.  I've learned that I'm not the same person I was 6 months or 6 years ago in the same way that I don't WANT to be this same person 6 months or 6 years from now.  In my opinion, my time here on earth is for me to grow emotionally, physically and spiritually.

I am most certainly making mistakes and missteps right now that will teach me things and mold me into the person that I will be in the future.  Hopefully that is a better person.  Hopefully that is a person who can be forgiving and understanding of who I am today.  Hopefully that is a person who will appreciate the things I write today for their wit and emotion and historical merit.

Today I may be disappointed that I don't have a written record of my life up to now, but my hope is that in 10 or 20 years, that's won't be true.  My goal starting today is to write it all down for my own personal benefit.  No constraint.  No rules on what I should write.  No censoring.

After all, if you want shade, when is the best time to plant a tree?  40 years ago.  When is the 2nd best time?  TODAY!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The importance of (cute) shoes

I'll admit I'm sort of a back-to-basics girl.  I always wish I was the girl whose hair and makeup were perfect, whose skin was soft as a baby's bottom, whose nails (fingers and toes) were always perfectly polished, whose body was a perfect size 2 (or 4 or 6 or 8, whatever!)   I'm sure there are those women out there for whom most of these things are true.  I am not one of them.  I rarely own anything that is considering trendy and cool (ever since that horrible incident in grade school with the parachute pants!  Bubble-butt is NOT what a fat little girl wants to be called!)

I guess growing up, for better or worse, I never really learned the art of being a high-maintainence girl.  My mom's hair and make-up and unpolished, yet perfectly filed nails were always impeccable, but she wasn't breaking any new fashion ground.  She doesn't really ever wear skirts or dresses and I've rarely seen her in anything higher than a 1 inch heel.  Most of the time she wears some standard (comfortable) flats.  Alas, I have taken on some of these same fashion standards, but no more!

I have a friend who is the ultimate in girly.  She's thin and beautiful and obsessed with cute shoes.  I've been to her house.  She has a TON of shoes...and they are all crazy cute!  That kind of puts my 3 basic pair of shoes to shame, huh?  I always admired her shoe choices, but didn't really see the point.  Yes, they were cute, but they looked uncomfortable and after all, who notices them?  Apparently lots of people do!

I am most certainly not looking for attention from men other than Troy at this point (he's a VERY basic shoe kinda guy!), but cute shoes apparently garner attention I never knew was out there!  Since it's summer and the weather is FINALLY nice, last week I decided to bust out my (one and only) pair of black sling back shoes with a bit of a heel (only about 2 inches).  I painted my toenails (because that is one of those rules of summer footwear I never knew before last year) and donned my kicky shoes.  I didn't change my hair or clothes or anything else, but I got quite a few comments.  Maybe it's because I have to walk differently, but I had a guy actually say to me, (ala Joey from "Friends") "Hey, pretty!  How are you doing today?"  I said "fine" and went on my way thinking, "what the....?"  The only thing that makes any sense to me is the shoes.

Maybe they are sort of like sexy underwear.  No one else may notice (or even see) them, but they certainly make you feel differently as you walk out into the world.

What do you think?  Are cute shoes important to a woman's self-image?  If not, what makes you feel fun and flirty?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Motorcycle lessons

I really love riding my motorcycle.  Here are a few things that I've learned from my time spent astride my iron steed.  (I LOVE #3)!  Thanks for passing these on to me, Troy!

12 Things My Motorcycle Has Taught Me

1. The only good view of a thunderstorm is in your rear view mirror.

2. Four wheels move the body; two wheels move the soul.

3. I'd rather be riding my motorcycle and thinking about God, than sitting in church thinking about my bike.

4. Life may begin at 30, but it doesn't get real interesting until about 75 mph.

5. Midnight bugs taste just as bad as Noon time bugs.

6. Sometimes it takes a whole tank full of gas before you can think straight.

7. A bike on the road is worth two in the shed.

8. Young riders pick a destination and go; old riders pick a direction and go.

9. When you're riding lead, don't spit.

10. Catching a yellow jacket in your shirt at 75 mph can double your vocabulary.

11. If you can't get it going with bungee cords and duct tape, it's serious.

12. Only a biker knows why a dog sticks his head out of a car window.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Message to the 16-year-old me

I usually just write whatever comes in to my mind, sticks in my craw or tugs at my heart.  Today I'm going to answer one of the questions posed by NaBloPoMo:

  If you could go back in time and meet your 16-year-old self, what three things would you tell yourself?

This is a tough question.  The irony is that I've thought of this before.  I think, "Argh...If only I could go back and tell Me what I know now!"  The problem is that, like most 16-year-olds, I knew EVERYTHING.  I thought my parents were terribly old and old-fashioned and I couldn't wait to grow up and be an adult.  Ahh, to be so young and ignorant again.

On with the things I would tell that silly, snobby, ignorant girl:

1)  Life is short.  You may only have another 70 years on this earth if you're lucky enough to one day be an old woman, so don't take any day for granted.  I'm sure that sounds like a long time to you, but believe me when I tell you it's not.  Those years go by FAST!  Spend your days laughing often, loving those around you and figuring out what it is that YOU love.  Don't be afraid to try things that are scary.  Some of the best stories come from doing the unexpected thing.

2) Keep a journal (and take more pictures)!  Write it all down.  In 20 years, you will want to remember the ups and downs of life.  If you do this, you will be able relive the joys and successes.  You'll also be able to reconsider the "failures" with a different perspective.  Don't worry about not having a writing "voice".  You will find it and even begin to enjoy writing and story telling.

3)  Take care of your body and appreciate all it does for you.  You are NOT fat!  But if you don't take care of yourself, and instead constantly put yourself down, you will be!  Eat right.  Get off of your butt and get moving.  Find sports and activities that you love and do them...often!  And if you're never a size 2, I guarantee life will go on and you WILL be loved.  I promise!

Oh!  And buy stock in Dell.  In 20 years it will be worth a lot!

Friday, June 11, 2010

It's Friday Follow time!


It's time for Friday Follow.  I do so love finding new readers and new blogs to read.  (Like I really need MORE blogs to read.)  So this Friday I'm linking up.  Check out some of the blogs if you're interested.

And make sure to leave a comment.  We bloggers {heart} our comments!

Have a great weekend everyone.  If the weather's nice, get out and enjoy it!  The housework will STILL be there. ....I promise!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

NOW - Strawberry Festival in downtown Indianapolis

As I've said before, working in downtown Indianapolis is a wonderful thing during the summer.  We just had all of the festivities of the month of May and all that goes on for the Indy 500.  Now it's June and that means it's time for the Strawberry Festival!  Yummo!

It's such a great charity event and really kicks off the summer for me!  I  love the scandalously decadent shortcake and whipped cream.  I love how the strawberries (and all of their wonderful juices) seep into the shortcake and puddle on the bottom of the container.  It is sooo yummy.

So, if you're in Indianapolis, you need to drop what you're doing RIGHT NOW and head down to Monument Circle.  The lines can get a little long sometimes, but it's totally worth the wait!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hair cut-astrophes!

Okay, I'm gonna need a little moral support, girls.

I can't be the only one who FREAKS OUT when I go to get my hair cut.  For me, my hair doesn't define me.  I had short hair all while I was growing up (I think because my mom decided how my hair would look and she was tired of me not wanting to have it brushed.  I can understand that .... a little.).  I even donated my hair to Locks of Love as part of my first 101 in 1001 list a few years ago.  I had grown it out for about 5 years and I was ready for a change.

Since then, I may have taken it too far.  Over the last few years, every time I go in to the salon, it seems to get shorter and shorter (yes, I understand that's the point of a haircut!).  It was a shoulder-length bob for a while.  Then I moved to a regular bob which came about 1/2 way between my shoulders and my chin.  Then I entered the 90s (in 2009 no less) and discovered the stacked bob.  I think before then the stacked bob had always been too "out there" for me.  What can I say?  I'm a straight-laced kinda girl.

I may have taken it too far this time.

I swear when I walk into the salon, I nearly break out into a cold sweat.  Maybe it's because I don't have a regular stylist.  Maybe it's because a haircut isn't something you can really undo all that quickly.  Oh sure, it will grow out, but until then every day is a hat day and I really don't look good in hats!

Last night when I went into the salon, it was no different.  I eyeball the stylists and, fair or not, I judge their skills at cutting hair based on what their hair looks like.  Let's just say my prospects were not looking good!  But I steeled myself, plopped my butt in the chair and explained what I wanted.  About 20ish minutes later I had a new (quite short) do.  Apparently when I told her that the length in the back should START tapering at the occipital bone, she took that to mean 1 1/2 inches ABOVE it!  Egads!

Let's just say this hair-do is SHORT!  Crazy short!  I-don't-have-to-use-much-shampoo short!  I-stepped-out-of-my-car-and-the-lesbians-that-live-next-door-to-me-said-"CAUUTE haircut" short!

The jury is still out.  If I decide I like it, maybe I'll share a picture with ya'll.  Maybe.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

#24 Completed - Buy fruits/vegetables/flowers from the farmers' market every week for a month - COMPLETED 05/26/2010

I've mentioned before how wonderful it is to work in downtown Indianapolis.  One of the perks is the Farmers' Market held every Wednesday just a block away.  It takes place from May through October from 9:30 AM to 1:30 pm and this particular farmers' market has everything from your standard fruits, vegetables and flowers to a beef farmer selling frozen cuts of meat, a couple of vineyards (who will let you taste their wares!  yum!), honey sellers and a man who sells oils and vinegars.  You never know for sure what you're going to get from week to week.  In the spring, there are lots of strawberries and tomatoes.  The fall brings pumpkins and squash to the market.

Back when my friend Stacey still worked with me, I used to get down to the market at least 3 times a month, but since then I usually don't remember until about 2 in the afternoon.  Doh!  So I decided to remedy that.  I love the idea of supporting local farmers and I especially love the fresh fruits and vegetables of spring and summer.  Sure, with modern grocers you can usually get most things year round, but buying it a store doesn't have the same feel and texture as buying it out of the back of the truck of the guy that actually grew it!
My original plan was to buy fruits or vegetables or flowers from the vendors during the month of May, but instead I bought some wine (yay!), a couple of dog bones from the meat vendor, and a few dog treats from the dog bakery that comes to the market.  (It's a good thing Sasha's not spoiled or anything!)  In the 4 weeks I made it to the market during May (thanks for joining me, Jenny!) I did actually manage to buy some flowers and a HUGE tomato though.  I'm looking forward to visiting the vendors more often over the course of the summer.

If you're in the downtown Indianapolis area on Wednesday mornings, come check it out!  Parking near the market is very reasonable.!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

NOW - The ones we love

Over Memorial Day weekend, I took some time to go up and visit my parents (#21 on the list).  It was good to get to see them and it was actually a fairly relaxing day for the three of us.  I watched the race on TV (with Dad) and worked on some craft projects (with Mom).  In the evening we decided to go up and put some flowers on the graves of my mom's mom and dad as well as her brother that died in 2000.  May 20th marked 10 years since he died and so many things have changed in our lives and relationships with my aunt and cousins since then that I never could have imagined.

There are lots of thing that I regret that I didn't say or do before they each died.  My uncle Steve battled brain cancer for quite a long time and I wish that I could have done or said more for him.  I know that his wife was struggling (and probably in denial) and that his children (they were 14 and 18 when he died) were probably not prepared for his death when it came.  After all, how can you be when you're just a child?  I wish I had been equipped with the words that they needed then.  I wish I could have told them how much I loved them.  I wish their hearts would have been open to hear what I had to say.  Unfortunately things have changed too much since then and I fear the wounds that are there can never be healed.

My regrets about the things I didn't say or do for my Grandpa are even more.  I remember the last time I saw him.  It was at an Easter party at my aunt's house and I had gone out to take a walk.  I was gone for probably an hour and when I got back, he had left to go home and I didn't get to say goodbye.

I didn't get to say goodbye.

A few weeks later, I thought about going up to visit him over the weekend.  He lived about 3 hours north of me and I didn't go to visit nearly enough.  He was in the midst of a divorce and I think that he was probably a bit lonely living so far from his family.  I thought about the visit and then got busy with my life here.  That was the weekend he died.

I didn't get to say goodbye.

There were so many conversations I wish could have had with him and so many questions I wish I had asked.  He was a WWII Navy Veterans and enjoyed telling stories about his time in "the service".  I wish I had listened to more stories.

I can't go back and change those things, but I can try to do things differently now.  Those regrets that haunt me are the reason that I put some of the things on my list.  My parents were young when they had me, so they are still pretty young.  The problem is that none of us is getting any younger and when I think that the number of Christmases we may have together is dwindling, it makes it even more important that I try to see them as often as possible.

I'm trying to use the time I have now the best way I can.  When given the choice between spending time with my loved ones or doing the laundry, I know that the laundry will always be there.  My loved ones may not be.  Now is when they are here and now is when I try to tell them I love them. 

Friday, June 4, 2010

NOW - Furry love

This week I had my orientation for volunteering at the local animal shelter.  This could possibly be one of the most dangerous things I've ever done.

Oh, I'm not afraid of being bitten or attacked by a dog or cat.  No, the danger I fear is much greater.  I am in danger of falling in love with all of the shelter animals and ending up with a house full of cats and dogs!

Right now I have 2 cats (Phoebe and Munchkin), who are officially "geriatric", but I think they are quite spry!  I got Phoebe the day after I moved here to Indianapolis back in 1997.  She was the first cat I ever got and it never ceases to amaze me that she's already 13 years old.  It seems like just yesterday she was a 1 pound ball of fur that needed to grow into her gigantic ears.  Even though she is pretty youthful and I don't enjoy having to clean up her occasional mess, every day I catch myself sadly contemplating the day when she'll no longer be a part of my household.

I got Munchkin in 2000 a few weeks after another one of my cats got very ill and died suddenly.  At the time I was hurting and didn't want another cat, but she somehow came home with me anyway (thanks, Mom!) and now I'm very attached to the tempermental little girl.  She enjoys being petted, but her attitude can turn on a dime and if you're not careful, you could lose an appendage.  For some reason I have to convince other people that she's sweet.  Go figure!

And, of course, I have Sasha.

Clearly, 2 cats and one dog are MORE than enough for me in my little bungalow home.  I don't need any more.  CLEARLY.

The problem is I'm a softy.  I see those sweet eyes and furry faces (whether they are mine or at the shelter) and I want to pet them and protect them and make sure nothing bad ever happens to them.  To put it simply, I just melt.

So this is my chance to be strong and listen to the advice of the trainer who spoke to us at the shelter the other day.  He said, "Love"  What better way is there to concentrate on the NOW?  Whether it's playing with Sasha at the dog park, snuggling with Phoebe and Munchkin in bed at night or walking the dogs at the shelter, I'm going to try to be in the "now".  I'm going to try to remember that worrying about the shelter animals finding a good home or fretting about when the end will come for my own pets only diminishes the joy I experience now.

Wish me luck and go give your pets some lovin's.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Call me Crazy

I am crazy.  I freely admit it.  I know others probably say it behind my back, but I think life is too short to go through it on a "normal" course.  There are just way too many things that might be completely and totally fun.  How will I know what those things are until I try them, right?

So, what makes me crazy this time?  I bought a kiddy carrier to pull behind my bicycle....for my dog.  It's okay.  I'll wait until you're done laughing.

Here's my explanation:  A great convergence occurred.  1)  I'm a big fan of multitasking and 2)  I've been on a kick to get some things crossed off of my list lately.  My most recent obsession is getting those 1000 miles ridden on my bicycle.  I could always head to the gym and ride them out on a stationary bike, but the weather here in Indiana is finally beautiful and I'm going to get out and enjoy it, darn it!  The only problem with going for a bike ride is that I'd love to take Sasha with me, but I'm afraid of her leash getting tangled up in my bike and bringing us both down.  Besides, she's not a very big dog (40 lbs) and despite her everlasting supply of energy, I didn't know how well she'd do running alongside me on a long bike ride.

So, I headed to Dick's Sporting Goods store and explained to the sales guy what I was looking for.  I was suprised to hear that lots of other people use those carriers for their dogs as well!  Perhaps I'm not as loony as I thought!

They've come a long way in the design of these carriers!  Once you attach the bracket to your bike (it stays on there and takes up very little room), you simply insert a toggle pin and you're ready to ride.

Sasha wasn't quite sure what to make of the ride at first and she REALLY didn't like the cobblestone road that I rode down, but she relaxed into it.  We rode from Troy's house in downtown Indianapolis up to the Broad Ripple area where there is a dog park.  Sasha was very excited to see all of the other puppies when we arrived and after an hour of playing at the park, she nearly fell asleep during the 6+ mile ride back to the house.

It was completely and totally a great afternoon!  When we got home that night, we both slept very well.  Even all those giggles I heard as other people passed us on the bike trail were well worth it.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

NOW - National Organization for Women

From my "Believing in Ourselves" daily quote calender (Sunday, May 30th):

"I never set out to start a women's revolution.  I never planned it.  It just happened, I would say, by some miracle of convergence of my life and history, serendipity, one thing leading to another."

- Betty Friedan, writer and cofounder of the National Organization for Women

As I sit here today, free to write this (and most any other thing I want to write which promotes the welfare, rights and privileges of women), I thank Betty and the other brave founders of NOW who have done so much for the women of our society.  NOW continues to promote the welfare of women and other oppressed groups in other countries around the world.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

NOW - Veruca Salt

Okay, I do so hate it when I fail to follow through on something. I promised that I would post an entry every day in May as a part of NaBloPoMo. I made it 10 days and happened. There's a lot of stuff going on here in my life that I may or may not share at some point. Sorry...some things have to be private, right?

Then I had a week of vacation that I took off from work to rest, relax and take care of some stuff at my house.

I know these are pitiful excuses, but they are all I have....

Anyway....I'm gonna give it another go and try to complete the month of blogging (since it's on my list and all, ya know).

This month's topic over at NaBloPoMo is "Now". Now THIS is something I can get on board with. After all, my list is all about taking advantage of those wonderful opportunities I have around me every day. Besides, for better or worse, I'm a master of instant gratification and I think that definitely lends itself well to the topic of "Now". I'm actually looking forward to this writing assignment!

So, what was the first thing that popped into my head when I read what the topic was?

"Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory". For those of you who aren't up on the whole thing, this is NOT the "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" movie starring Johnny Depp made a few years ago. No! This is fabulously wonderful 1971 cinema starring Gene Wilder at its best. I swear I have seen this movie no less than 100 times. At least! I can recite every line and sometimes break out into songs from it for seemingly no reason. My all-time favorite song from it is "I want it NOW" sung by the character Veruca Salt. She is an uber-spoiled girl who is used to getting everything she wants at the drop of a hat.

I am most certainly not a fan of spoiled children (or grown people for that matter), but there is just something about this song that makes me smile. Perhaps its the fact that I know it would be COMPLETELY socially unacceptable, but there are times that I would like to sing it from the highest roof top. Take a listen and tell me you don't feel the same way sometimes.


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