Monday, April 30, 2007

Picture of the Day, take two.

Here is my second attempt at photographing Anna Marie's cocoon. I followed Amanda's suggestions: turn off the flash, take off the top, take it outside, and use the macro setting.

I think it turned out much better, except I didn't realize until now that the paint on the porch was the same color as the cocoon.



I had to go with mom this afternoon to take care of some stuff, and after we finished we hit Target. Look what I found in the Dollar spot!

I've been doing tons more cardmaking lately than I have scrapbooking. I suppose because it's on a smaller scale, and it's instant gratification.

Man, am I ever shallow.


I'm looking forward to working with these - they included the cards, and some cute embellishments!

(We also hit Payless. Jason needed some shoes, and, well, they were having BOGO, so I scored a pair for myself too. Funny thing is, I had no intention of buying shoes today - mom did, but she ended up not getting any. Go figure.)

Methinks that after I put little AM to bed tonight, I may have a date with some card making kits . . .

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Things I did today.

1. Slept until nearly 9 a.m., because Anna Marie was over at mom's. And we didn't get home until late last night (see #2, below.)

2. Had the house to myself, because last night when we went on a "date" a wee small plastic part that attaches to my car's water pump split, allowing all the coolant inside to spew out, and Jason went with my dad to a dealership this morning and then on to dad's shop to fix it.

3. Exercised - twice!

4. Had lunch with mom and AM at Subway - so gracious of mom to come rescue me so I didn't have to drive the Amazing Technicolor Dream Van!

5. Bought AM some new knee/elbow pads and a new helmet, because, oddly enough, the set we bought her at three and a half does not now fit her at five and a half.

6. Watched Darby O'Gill and the Little People.

7. Learned that Sean Connery was in above movie, something I didn't realize when I watched it as a child.

8. Researched digital cameras, and decided I want a Fuji Finepix S700.

Things I did not do today:

1. Take my picture-a-day.

2. Figure out where to come up with the money for the camera, since the Big Box Retailer no longer does layaway and we no longer do credit cards.

(They have the camera at HSN, on Flex-Pay. May have to go that route.)

So, I fell down on the picture-taking job on the second day! I was hoping my renewed commitment to photography would make the camera fairy bring me a new camera.

Looks like I may have to take matters into my own hands.

Friday, April 27, 2007

A picture a day

Keeps the Wookies away.

Or not.

(That's borrowed from the NaBloPoMo button.)

I have a "second quarter 2007" resolution - to improve my photography skills by taking a picture every day.

This one is of Anna Marie's critter container. There's a cocoon in the right-hand corner, and due to Amanda's mad research skillz, we know it will grow into a moth.

A little disappointing to a little girl who was hoping for a butterfly, but, we can't all be Monarchs.

Any critique will be greatly appreciated.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Official Thursday Weigh-In

I FINALLY have some good news.

I lost the half pound I gained nearly a MONTH ago!

Now, while I hate the thought of losing weight I've already lost once, I'm really glad to be off my plateau.

I'm back down to 163, and one of the ladies at WW gave me a nice compliment to offset my anti-SPUNK of earlier this week.

Check in girls!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The anti-SPUNK

At One Weigh Or Another, they have something called "SPUNKS." It's basically when someone notices you've lost weight and gives you a compliment.

I've had my share of those over the past year and a half, but yesterday was a first.

An anti-SPUNK.

I got a call in my office, right before I left for the day. It was from a lady who is in my book club, and she wanted to complain about Walmart's new practice of handling checks.

Apparently, now when you write them a check, they give you a receipt similar to one from a credit or debit card. She was not amused. (I guess she never heard of Check 21). Anyway, she called the number the clerk gave her if she had any questions, and she said she kept getting disconnected by the computerized phone system.

When she called back to complain to the store manager, she was offended by the lewd content of the on-hold music.

All that to say, she wanted me to "investigate" and "write an editorial" about the matters.

Believe it or not, this is a fairly normal phone conversation around here. Lots of complaints and conspiracy theorists.

Then the call got weird.

She started off saying how glad she was to have spoken to me, "That pretty brunette" who comes to book club.

"Thank you," I replied.

"That chubby little brunette."


Since when is it acceptable in polite society to call someone you know as a passing acquaintance "chubby?"

It's been a LONG time since someone has made a comment about my weight - like, maybe junior high?

I didn't know what to say. I wanted to say, "Yeah, you should've seen me about 75 pounds ago," but I didn't.

I just wished her a good day, and got on with mine.

Chubby brunette, indeed. I ought to bleach my hair before next month's meeting.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Who knows what tomorrow holds?

Apparently not me.

At least, I didn't know what today held. If I'd known, I would have stayed in bed, and not come out.

I was awakened at the lovely hour of O'dark Thirty, by the gracious driver of a garbage truck in the bank parking lot behind my house. Slamming down a Dumpster.

Lovely, lovely sound, especially at that hour.

After tossing and turning for a while, I decided to get up. It was before 6 a.m.

I then received a phone call from a family member, wherein said family member dissolved into tears, and I had no comfort for him. So I said nothing, but I felt terrible.

All this before I got to work.

Shortly after I arrived, our office manager came into my office and asked me if I knew a Renee Martin.

Of course I did - she worked at the paper when I started. She was the graphic artist, and it was her departure for Alabama that opened the door for Amanda.

I loved me some Renee.

I even made a song about her - to the tune of "The Cat Came Back." She'd worked at the paper as page editor several years before, and had quit in a dispute with the editor. Then, when she moved back to town, she came back and asked for a job. (Same editor, but both had cooled down by then). She became the graphic artist. So, whenever we'd talk about her leaving and coming back, I'd sing "Renee came back" for her.

So, so silly. But I think she liked it.

Back to the present:

Faye says, "Did anyone tell you she passed away?"


That was the last thing I'd expected to hear.

Renee was only 42. Her husband had tried to wake her about 4 a.m. (I think he was on his way to work) and couldn't rouse her. She'd been gone about two hours, by the coroner's estimate.

Her younger son, who is about 10 years old, was sleeping in the bed with her.

Other than the fact that she smoked, Renee was in good health. An autopsy is being performed, and I hope it will bring us all some answers.

I'm still in shock. I was the only one in the office at the time who'd worked with Renee. The other person left there who knew her, Shirley, was at the hospital with her husband. I felt very, very alone, because there was no one to reminisce with.

I called the other three girls who had worked with us during that time.

When Shirley came back, she put her "I know everyone in the county" skills to good use to find out what was going on. We spent a good bit of today on the phone, relaying what we were learning.

I was emotionally drained by the end of the day.

Then something funny happened. I had to cover something after hours. It reminded me of something about Renee, and I had to laugh.

She was TERRIFIED of being in the building alone. And her job before she left the first time, Page Editor, required her to come up on Saturdays during football season and put in the games from the night before. Alone.

She dragged her older son with her, or in a pinch, she'd call one of her coworkers.

What was her problem?

She was afraid of ghosts. One ghost in particular. The ghost of Grandpa Lee, the former owner/editor who'd died at his desk (in my office!) in the early 1970's. There was no window into the office at the time, and he was there for several hours before someone found him.

As far as I knew, Renee never met the elder Mr. Lee. It was the principal of the thing.

One of my favorite stories came to my memory, and I talked to LaJuan (another former coworker) about it when we met at Walmart tonight.

An advertiser had sent inserts, and they weren't boxed or bundled. When the truck driver opened the door, they flew all over the parking lot.

Jay (our editor at the time, and grandson of Grandpa Lee), LaJuan, and Renee were charged with retrieving the papers.

In the parking lot, there is a brass pipe with a cap that says "Lee." We don't know why - it's possible it's meant to signify who the property belonged to.

Anyway, LaJuan pointed it out to Renee, who'd never seen it before. They asked Jay what it was about.

Never one to miss an opportunity to get Renee's goat, he calmly said, "That's where Grandpa Lee's ashes are buried."

Renee hightailed it back into the building, and didn't come out again for a very long time. She was a fearful girl.

She was so afraid of the dentist, she'd call ahead to reserve the room she thought had the "good gas." Then, she'd bum a Valium off her mother. And go home and take a Loritab.

Like I said, terrified.

Tonight, I held Anna Marie just a little tighter when I hugged her goodnight.

And tomorrow, when I go back to work, I'll remember Renee and her fears - of being alone in our building, of the dentist, of just about everything.

I only hope that when I'm gone, I'll leave behind something for people to laugh at as they remember me.

(Stop it. I said after I'm gone.)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The best laid plans

I had such great plans for this weekend. Especially yesterday.

I was going to clean the house! Exercise! Take Anna Marie to the movies!

I got basically none of that done, mostly due to a lack of sleep. Both on my part and Little AM's.

I was going to get the movies part done. We have a small, four-screen theater about a block from my house, across the street from my office. It's called the Tobie (short for "Senatobia" - clever!)During the school year, they only have matinees on Saturday and Sunday, and then during breaks like Spring Break and Christmas. Meet The Robinsons was playing last week, but was gone. It was going to have to be Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which, although AM had seen it before, was OK with her.

Then, my mom called from a trip she's on to Georgia with three of her siblings, and said that Amanda was at home, alone, and sick.

I morphed into Florence Nightengale.

She required Benadryl and powdered sugar. Anna Marie and I sprang into action.

However, as a result, we missed the 2:00 p.m. matinee.

And since neither of us had slept, I made us both take a nap. We each slept for something like two hours.

After dinner, I told her we would go outside and she could ride her scooter. But, she was in some kind of bad humor, and we ended up coming back home after a couple of blocks.

The night ended with us watching the second Pirates of the Carribean. So, technically, we did get in a movie.

Today, I made up for it.

After church, we walked down to the Tobie for TMNT. I made a great discovery - our theater sells single-serve bags of pretzels! Yeah, they cost $1, but it's something she and I can split and I don't have to feel too badly about.

We walked back after the movie, and spent the next hour in the backyard exploring, playing TMNT, playing soccer, and playing baseball.

It looks like I smushed all my plans for the past two days into two and a half hours.

(Except for the "cleaning the house" part.)

No wonder I just ordered pizza for dinner.

Friday, April 20, 2007

I'm in! I'm in!

I have a VERY exciting piece of news to share.

I've been invited to be a contributor over at We ate it, we moved it, we lost it. This is the first time I've had this opportunity, and I'm grateful for the chance. I just posted my "introduction," and I'm looking forward to getting to know all the other folks over there a little better.

I've also posted a link in my blogroll called "Eat it. Move it. Lose it."

Come and visit!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Official Thursday Weigh-In

Oy vey!

Another week with no movement of the scale! What gives?

Obviously not my weight. Still 163.5 and holding.

I think I've hit the proverbial plateau.

Don't know what I'm gonna do about it.

Any suggestions?

(P.S. - I realize I've only updated this blog one other time this week, and I do apologize. Life has been rather hectic in Melz World!)

Monday, April 16, 2007

I just don't even know what to say.

I knew I needed to update my blog. I knew that the Official Thursday Weigh-In had been up a sufficient number of days, and that Melz World needed some new, fresh content.

I was debating what to blog about - the sudden change in weather? The wonders of the coffee I drank this morning, which enabled me to function for the first couple of hours, after my night of no sleep?

The fact that Anna Marie has figured out that when she's hungry it makes her cranky (-er)? (Just let her wait until puberty!)

And then I started seeing reports of a shooting on a college campus in Virgina.

First, it was just one shot dead and one injured.

Then, I came back from lunch, and it was worse. Oh, so much worse.

Thirty two people worse. And everytime I open my browser, my homepage tells me something worse still.

And although I have LOTS (and I mean, LOTS) of stuff, going on in my life right now -

Suddenly, I can't blog about any of that.

Suddenly, I'm speechless - or I guess "wordless" would be a better phrase for a blog.

I just don't know what to say.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Official Thursday Weigh-In

This week, it's all good. Well, it's all the same, so I guess that's the same as all good.

Neither down nor up did I go. Which is OK.

And on the CT5K front, I did my second session last night. I don't know if I waited longer after eating, or if it wasn't as cold out, but I felt measurably less nauseas this time.

Check in girls!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I don't usually post about celebrity stuff

But I'm gonna have a heart attack and die from not surprised.

Birkhead is Smith's Baby's Father, DNA Tests Reveal

Me + running =

One really bad idea.

I am such a big wimp!

I've decided to do the Couch to 5K thing (at Cool Runnings.) The folks over at One Weigh Or Another are also starting up.

So, last night shortly after dinner (mistake #1) I laced up my kicks and headed out.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the CT5K concept, it's simple (if not a bit ridiculous in practice): start off by walking, then run 60-second intervals with 90 seconds in between to "recover."

("Recover." That's an interesting choice of words.)

At any rate, you do the routine three times per week, and then move on to longer periods of running.

Now, don't get me wrong. I have NO intention of running a 5K. At ANY time in the future. I do, however, want to enter our local two mile walk this summer. I did last year, and it took me somewhere around 33 minutes to complete the course. I won third place in my age group (!), but I hope to do better this year.

Basically, I'm trying to push myself physically (and mentally!) and get some new life into my exercise routine.

I found a podcast where the guy plays upbeat music and tells you when to run and when to walk. I thought I was all set.

Let me tell you - that 60 seconds of running turned into about the longest 60 seconds of my life! I walked down to a park (about five minutes) and then did my intervals around the track. The last five or so minutes (the cool down period) I walked back home.

It's chilly here, and I think that was mistake #2. As I was bringing in large quantities of air (OK, gasping for air) my lungs were burning. BURNING. I don't know if warmer air would do the same or not. It made the whole experience that much tougher.

Then, I remembered - I have semi-bad knees. I have no business out here, running this asphault track.

And yet, there I was. And I made it through. I survived.

And when I got home, I wanted to collapse. I guess I went out too soon after dinner, and my blood was wanting to be in my digestive system instead of my brain. I felt like I was going to pass out.

On the way home, I was so nauseated, I was actually plotting out which homes on the way were unoccupied, so I could hurl into their yards if I needed to.

After a winter of my Gazelle, getting out onto the pavement was a bit of a shock to my system.

But, I remain undeterred. I shall shun the couch, and return to the track. I didn't get that "runners high," but I guess since I didn't actually run all that much, maybe that's why.

Now, if I could just convince Jason that I need to invest in a new pair of running shoes…

Monday, April 09, 2007

A real lightbulb moment

I know how much y'all have missed my "epiphany posts."

This morning, after I returned from covering a meeting of the Board of Supervisors, I meandered past the table in our office where editions of other newspaper reside.

(I bet you didn't know that, did you? That newspapers subscribe to one another, to keep an eye on what other papers are doing? Sometimes we just swap out subscriptions, but we have to pay for The Commercial Appeal [the Memphis paper] and The Clarion-Ledger [the Jackson paper])


I picked up the lifestyle section in the CA, creatively titled the "M" section (as opposed to the "A" "B" or "C" sections). On Mondays, they feature articles on health and fitness.

(And since I'm a serious journalist, the "M" section is always my first stop in the CA.)

The cover story was entitled "Too Much." It detailed a phenomenon called "soft addictions." These are things that aren't illegal, or even considered "harmful" in small doses, but nevertheless take out loads of time from your life.

I was reading the article, and a lightbulb came on in my head - I have a few of these.

Chances are, you do too.

The list includes procrastination, watching too much TV (to the point of staying up too late and not getting enough sleep), acting moody or cranky, over eating, drinking too much coffee, shopping impulsively, daydreaming excessively (this one got me into real trouble in elementary school), complaining excessively (Hey Valerie! You're on to something!) and surfing the internet excessively.

Uh oh.

Taken in moderation, none of these things are evil. It's when I let them take over my everyday life, that they become harmful.

Unfortunatly, there is no "Internet time-suck Anonymous" or "Staying Up Too Late Anonymous" group, at least not in Senatobia.

It's just so easy to get caught up in being "caught up" - especially for a self-professed information junky like myself.

That icon at the top of this post? That's the symbol for Apple's Safari browser, which is what I use at work. (Hate it, by the way. Take note, Steve Jobs. I'm sure you have Google Alerts and all!)

So, today, I'm turning over a new leaf. Actually, it started last night, because Jason sent me to bed - yes, you read that right - at 9:00 p.m. He said I was getting "crankier by the minute."

I don't know if the earlier bedtime made a difference so far or not. I've got to do something, because it isn't fair to Anna Marie that the time I get to spend with her in the evenings is fraught with my crankiness, because I'm so dog tired all the time. Because as Amanda says, I get "caught up in staying up." It's a vicious cycle.

And I have to stay away from those internet time-sucks! You can waste more time looking at stuff like, you know.

Besides, there are much more productive addictions out there, like buying cute clothes for the kid.

(In the interest of full disclosure, this dress was a gift from a lady at the auction, and that pose was all AM's idea. She informed me that it was how people looked when they got their picture made. Huh?)

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Official Thursday Weigh-In

Let's see.

I gained a half a pound this week. What does that make me?

I guess it makes me a half-pound gainer.

I guess it takes me up to 163.5.

I guess it means I have to work a little harder next week.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Dear neighborhood birds

(An open letter to all the birds which reside in the trees surrounding my house.)

Dear neighborhood birds,

Hi there! We've never met, but I feel like I know you so well I thought it would be OK if I wrote y'all this letter.

I know, for instance, that you are early risers. All of you. Early. Like before the sun is even up. Early.

I also know that you are apparently OCD, because repetition and routine seem to be your strong points.

For instance, not only do you begin your song service at approximately the same (ungodly) hour each morning - there seems to be a definite repetition to the chirps.

If I may be frank here, birds, it is quite maddening.

I am beginning to resent being cheated out of my last hour of sleep simply because you feel the need to socialize.

While I appreciate the shade brought to my home by my trees, I am beginning to contemplate their demise so as to be rid of you.

I do not bust up into your crib at all hours of the night, playing my Tobymac or my Barlowgirl or Superchic(k) or any such thing.

Yes, I could sleep with ear plugs, but as you might know I have a small child. When she comes to me in the night, she is not comforted much when it takes her extra long to rouse me and she is then unable to communicate her needs through the plugs.

So, in the future, could you set your alarm just a little later, say until 7:00 a.m. or so? Or at least hit the snooze button a few times? I think you'd benefit from the extra sleep as much as I would.

And while I realize that your people have an ancient saying that "The early bird catches the worm," I think that in today's economy there are plenty of worms to go around. And, you may gain an advantage by a staggered eating schedule.

Just a suggestion.

Hoping to (not) hear from you soon,

A concerned sleeper.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Goodbye, Amazing Technicolor Dream Van.

Hello, yet-unnamed Dream Car - with air conditioning!

Yes, this is what I did with a chunk of my weekend.

I bought a car.

It's not new, but it's new to me, and it's in great condition.

And did I mention, it has AIR? The kind that's CONDITIONED? And all COLD AND STUFF?

And that it's the exact kind of car that, if I could pick any car to drive, my dream car would be? That I've always wanted a Grand Prix?

I know I don't post much "God stuff" here, but I just have to testify.

I have to testify about a God that knew just what kind of car I wanted, and knew that I had no means to get it through the standard channels, but made a way for me to get it. And in a way that I know it was Him (working through a couple of benevolent souls, if you're reading this, you know who you are) doing it.

I can't even wrap my mind around it.

And not the least of the benevolent souls was my very own sister Amanda, who could've bought the car with her insurance money, but knew that it was the kind of car that I'd always wanted (did I mention I'd always wanted a Grand Prix?) and passed on the opportunity, so that I could buy it.

Poor little Anna Marie, by the way, isn't nearly so stoked about the car (And the air conditioning. Did I mention the air conditioning?) She cried a good bit of Saturday, when she discovered that she'd be riding in the car now instead of my van (which, by the way, NO AIR!) Silly girl. Guess she doesn't remember the sweat beads on her nose for the past two summers.

Or the summer that my parents, my brother and his first wife, my sister, and Anna Marie and I (Jason was out of town) went to see fireworks at a church an hour away, and the air went out in the van. And we had to ride the whole way home, all of us together in the van, with no air.

(And by the way, opening the windows in the back of the van is NOT the same as rolling them down in a car. Just so you know.)

And now, when I go somewhere and I'm the News Editor, I have an actual all-one-color vehicle to step out of.

And I won't be all sweaty and junk from riding there with no A/C.

(Side note: this car had lovely tinted windows, but the great state of Mississippi decided a couple of years ago it wasn't fond of aftermarket tint jobs so much. Apparently, really dark factory tint, like I had in my van, is more to their liking. So now if you have aftermarket tint, you have to get a separate inspection. And my windows didn't pass. So Jason has spent a good chunk of his afternoon scraping the tint off, so that no one thinks I'm a thug and such.)

No more Mom My Ride for this Rokken Mom!