January 25, 2015

Chain Of Custody

Balls! Balls! Balls!

Every form of media is talking about balls...inflated, deflated, inspected, psi and chain of custody!

I was impressed, yet puzzled,  with the expression "chain of custody"! I'm familiar with the terms "chain crew," "chain gang," "bringing the chains out to measure," but chain of custody is not part of football-speak.

Possession, yes. Control, sure,  but Custody just isn't in football vocabulary.

It appears that in the hidden shadows of football rules and regulations, the game is played only with Home-Team balls. Which may explain "home field advantage"! I can only imagine how difficult and humiliating it must be for visiting teams to have to leave their balls at home.

The balls are inflated to a certain psi, presented to Balls Inspector two hours before a game begins. One can only assume that the inspector is one of the Refs, but I am only aware of Line Judge, Back Judge, Field Judge, Referee, Head Linesman. I've never heard of a Ball Judge. Could it be that since I am a woman, none of the men in my life have had the balls to share this information with me?

Now, I am aware that there is a head ref, the guy in charge of the other refs and he is sometimes referred to as the Crew Judge. It would stand to reason that he might be in charge of inspecting balls.

As I listened to one especially heated report, one reporter was incensed that, once inspected and approved, the balls are then returned to the team. She must have had a background in law because she repeatedly used the term "chain of custody". She was aghast (yes, that is the word she used), aghast, that the home team's balls were not all placed in a large bag (ouch) and kept in the possession of the refs.

Now, this leads me to question "chain of custody" of balls in general. Professional athletes around the world are known for poor choices and aggressive behaviors including murder, domestic violence, kidnapping, paparazzi abuses and dog fighting. Immaturity and an over abundance of testosterone are probably major factors in the overall lack of good judgement.

Of course, that leads directly to prisons, which are filled to the brim with men with violent tendencies and abhorrent behaviors who typically are in custody of balls.Then there are hormonal teenage boys, completely different balls-related dilemmas.

How different would life be with a little fine tuning of chain of custody rules and regulations regarding balls in general?

I do believe I will be consulting with Hillary Clinton on this subject.

January 12, 2015

Another Beautiful Day In Redding

Just tried to take one of the dogs out for a walk.

As soon as we stepped out of the house, the voice of a very angry or very drugged man reached us.

He was screaming, cursing and threatening to kill someone. His voice was scary and ugly.

We turned back into the house and I took the dogs for walks in our back yard. The whole time listening to the threats and profanity.  Soon, the the sound of sirens and a helicopter circling above joined the mayhem.

Sirens have stopped. Man is still screaming. Dogs are whining. Helicopter is still circling.

Someone remind me again, why do we live in Redding?

January 11, 2015

Is "Love" a Verb?

Psychology researcher, Arthur Aron, conducted a study on intimate relationships and interpersonal closeness.

I believe one of the goals of the study was to analyze whether love is just something that "happens" to us or if it is an action that we can deliberately perform. Is love a verb?

Reading the questions, I was shocked to discover that, after 30+ years of marriage, there were several (many) answers that I didn't know how my husband would answer. Though I do know with certainty that he will not enjoy being asked all these questions in a 90 minute period! Many of these questions I've never even asked myself....but I will.

As I read them, the thought occurred to me that if more couples actually took the time to ask each other these questions before hopping into bed with each other, our nation's divorce rate might be considerably lower. Maybe asking each other these questions would also cause our marriage rates to drop too. It seems so many people get married because they both don't like mustard or some such nonsense, oh, and "bed" is so much fun!

Have you ever asked yourself these questions? Ever asked your spouse or your friends?

Set I
 1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
 2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?
 3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehease what you are going to say? Why?
 4. What would constitute a "perfect day" for you?
 5.When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
 6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30 year old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
 7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
 8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
 9.  For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

Set II
13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
14. Is there something that you've dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven't you done it?
15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
16. What do you value most in a friendship?
17. What is your most treasured memory?
18. What is your most terrible memory?
19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
20. What does friendship mean to you?
21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?
22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.
23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people's?
24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?

25. Make three true "we" statements. For instance, "We are both in this room feeling...."
26. Complete this sentence: "I wish I had someone with whom I could share...."
27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
28. Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying thinkgs that you might not say to someone you've just met.
29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already?
32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven't you told them yet?
34. You house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner's advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.

Having read these questions, do you know more about yourself? Do you think your partners answers will surprise you?

January 09, 2015

Had To Be There

There are some cultural references that are just too old or local for many to understand. Though I believe that Gilligan's Island is a multi-generation icon.

I am also aware that for most humor, unless you were "there" it just isn't that funny. This may be one of those times. I was "there" and I can't stop giggling.

Let me set the stage: Returning from church, we are still in our Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes. Husband sits at the counter as I make breakfast. There is serious conversation regarding the Homily from Mass. Serving his breakfast, I return to the fridge to gather makings for my juice breakfast; 2 apples, 1 pear, 2 red bell peppers, turnip greens, cucumber, 5 carrots and fresh ginger.

Conversation switches to the reconstruction of our downed fence. Cost. To borrow a truck to pick up materials or have materials delivered.  Cost of hiring someone or to build it ourselves.

Money is a serious issue for Frank, the intensity of discourse is  building exponentially as the price tag grows.

My veggies are prepared and ready for juicing...but wait....I hadn't peeled any fresh ginger. It's missing from the chopping block. I return to the fridge, which is jam-packed full of fruit and vegetables, as well as, sodas, beers, juices. soy, almond and cow milk containers all left over by family from Christmas break.

Frank and I continue to add up the materials needed and rising costs of said materials. Also discussing whether we need two double gates on the individual fences on side of house or if we can make do with single gates, or, maybe, a double gate on front yard entrance and single gate entering the back yard.

The intensity rapidly builds! This is serious business. Could be twice the investment we first imagined. We're talking 18 4x4 redwood posts just to start. Frank is hearing, "Ka-ching...Ka-ching...Ka-ching!" The tips of his ears have turned red and the vein in his forehead is throbbing.

I still can't find the package. Searching; my frustration becomes apparent as I open and close refrigerator drawers, shuffle carrots and celery. Bottles clank, an onion rolls out and across the floor.

"Damn it, I can't find Ginger!"

"Have you looked on the beach!...Ask Skipper, maybe he's seen her! What do think about wrought iron straps on the gates?"

Never missed a beat; inflection stayed even. This man is a keeper.

January 07, 2015

Danger, Will Robinson!

Huffington Post reported the 10 most dangerous states to live in the U.S. in August, 2014.  The report was based on FBI statistics of violent crimes committed per 100,000 residents.  The tenth most dangerous state had a rate of 463.65 violent crimes per 100,000 people in the year 2012. The #1 most dangerous state statistics were 643.6 per 100,000.

24/7 Wall Street also published a list of the most dangerous states to live in per capita.  Again, the state with the highest violent crime rate was 644 (rounded up) followed by states two (607/100,000) and three (603 per 100,000) in the most likely to get raped, shot or have the crap beaten out of you line-up.

Checking with USA Today, Wall St Cheat Sheet, Law Street Media and the S.F. Examiner, the numbers match up.

Because my nature is to question (damn me!), I checked up on the statistics of our home town. I am not fond of the concept or word "statistics"? I find it objectifies the suffering of men, women and children, turning them into pie charts or algorithms that take the guilt out of profiting at the cost of humanity, yet, the numbers typically don't lie.

Citizens of Redding have had serious concerns about the ever-present and growing threat on our streets. Our town is inundated with newly released felons (Thank you, Governor Brown),  homeless, meth-addicts, heroin addicts and panhandlers.We are the fifth most dangerous town for women in the United States.

We are also smack-dab on the I-5 corridor and therefore, we get a lot of hit-and-split violence.

Our pleasant little town in northern California boasts a 5-year increase in violent crime. In 2005 our rate was 475 (rounded down) per 100,000 which grew to.....wait for it.....797.1 violent crimes per 100,000 people in 2010. One hundred and fifty four violent crimes per 100,000 more than the most dangerous state! Property crimes are off the charts.

Hmm. What else is going on here?  Digging....digging.....ah! Twenty-two percent of the population lives below the poverty line as opposed to the national rate of 14%, according to Census Bureau reports.

After further research, I have concluded that as a resident of this fine city, I can only be raped or shot. I cannot have the crap beaten out of me as it has already been scared out of me!  Second conclusion is that pepper spray is a must-accessory when shopping for groceries or checking the mail. Lastly, for our road trip, for safety sake, we will have to rent a car in a town at least 50 miles from here and be airlifted from our home to car rental!

Home Sweet Home!

January 05, 2015

Seneca Says

In the words of Roman philospher, Seneca, "It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that make them difficult."

In the wee hours of morning; hiding the light from my Kindle deep under the weight of the flannel sheets, 1 thermal blanket and 3 quilts, Seneca reached out to me. The quote isn't new, we have all heard it said in a hundred ways over the span of our lives. Somehow, at 3:20 a.m., surrounded by 3 snoring dogs and a warm sleeping man, cold, cold air, it grabbed my attention.

First on my list of Do-Not-Dares: removing myself from the bedroom to a space where I could read openly, lights on, a cup of hot chamomile tea and possible, a left over piece of apple pie.

Why do I "not dare"?  Simple; I absolutely hate being cold. My body doesn't stop at cold; this old body makes a beeline for down-to-the-bone-cold and recovery takes some doing. To climb out of bed to retreat to the family room would have meant searching in the dark for pajamas or sweats, which would surely be cold. Slipping into cold clothing, causing me to break out in goose bumps. Goose bumps causing me to break out in four letter words...possibly resulting in husband to waking up. 

Then there are feet that need coverage. The cold would not be a problem, for my socks from yesterday were being warmed by the sleeping body of Rex on the floor next to the bed.  Retrieving said socks would have meant waking him, which would cause Kona to wake and commence with a.m. whining which is different from my-brother-just-jumped-the-fence whining but still just as annoying. Whining would wake Thor. Three canines awake at dark-thirty brings with it a rush to curb loud whining (guaranteed to be loud whining) and let them out. Add that all up it will possibly cause husband to wake up.

Then there is the icy air rushing into the room as I slide the door open; more discomfort and goose bumps.  Then there is sitting at the edge of the bed, waiting for dog business to be done.

Now dog business, in itself, would be fine; out/in-no one gets hurt!  Alas, our boys have a whole routine, which is much like a can-can dance in a burlesque show with all the leg lifting. First Rex (alpha) stands in the open doorway, sniffing.  More cold air rushing in, more whining on the pits side, more four-letter words on my side. Whining, four-letter words....husband wakes up. (husband works hard, needs sleep).

When Rex has decided the space is clear (no skunks or mountain lions), he walks to the first pillar of the pergola; first leg lift; followed by Kona's leg lift and finally, Thor's. On to next pillar. There are 10 pillars in all. Then there are the bushes and fence line that must be reconnaissance-sniffed and subsequently marked.  Hashtag: keep out unless you want to come in and play or feed us

The boys then run for the water bowl to refill their tanks just in case Rex decides to return to the first pillar for an encore round of leg lifting, just to make sure any visiting cats or possums know that he is the boss, not the two adolescent pit bulls. Of course, the boys follow around to add to Rex's scent. 

While the boys perform their version of the PeePee Rockettes routine, I will have goose-bumped myself into pj's or sweats, still shivering. Just about the time I pull the warmed socks on, Rex will be scratching at the door.

A good fifteen minutes will have passed, I will be miserably cold, dogs will take a couple more minutes to settle. At least two chapters of reading traded for wretched discomfort.

Microwave water for tea, read another chapter while quaking from despicable cold  Sleep would be calling my name (and if not sleep just the promise of warmth would be whispering to me from the bedroom.  Crawling into bed, accompanied with icy feet, icy hands and icy butt, I would slip under the covers. Cuddling up next to sleeping husband, seeking warmth, effectively, shocking him into wakefulness.

Sometimes Seneca got it wrong.

December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve

Our great-granddaughter. Photo Courtesy of Nicole Chelonis Photography

 Just returned from Dutch Bros with a large hot Kicker (hot espresso with Irish Cream flavor). In honor of Christmas Eve, I asked for whipped cream. Shh, don't tell my doctor! She's not a fan of dairy...or meat....or cheese!

My tasks for the day are short and sweet! Peel and slice a small herd of apples (or would that be a bushel?).  Roll out some pie dough and bake an apple pie.  Wrap presents, water the Christmas tree, kick back and wait for that handsome husband of mine to come home.

Pandora is playing Christmas music. House is cozy. I'm amazingly content. The next 8 days will be filled with my kids and grandchildren, snow, birthday parties and games! My granddaughters will help me make pancakes; we'll sneak cookie dough when the adults go to bed and play black jack at the kitchen table when the parents are out and about!

My parents will be here to share the joy (and chaos).

It's a good day to be happy!

Merry Christmas to you all.


December 23, 2014

I'm Going In

An item left to purchase which means I MUST venture into the Mall (insert theme from Jaws).

I avoid the Mall at all costs but there is a shirt at Hot Topics absolutely made for one of my granddaughters but it was out-of-stock online. (grimacing accompanied with veins throbbing in forehead).

   Two Days Before Christmas
+                          Mall Traffic
                               Tight Jaw

For those of you who don't understand "old-school-math" this equation is my kind of extreme sports.
I don't like extreme sports.

Cover me, Dano! I'm going in!

December 22, 2014

What Do You Have?

Imagine it's the end of a long day. You're tired.

You strip your clothes off, crawl under the covers and drop off to a sound, deep sleep.

The next thing you know, your room is full of smoke; your house is on fire. You leap out of bed and run out your sliding door. Your house burns to the ground.

There you are, sky-clad. You didn't even grab a sheet to cover yourself. Everything you own is gone.

What do you have left?

Most people would shrug their shoulders, responding, "Nothing." 

They would be wrong.

You still have the only thing that was ever, really yours. You have your word. You have your integrity.

There is nothing in the world that can't be taken from you. Cars, clothes, books, your wedding ring, your job, your home. Even your freedom can be snatched!

Is your word good?  Is your integrity solid?

The only way you can lose your integrity is by giving it away. Little lies grow into big lies. Small indiscretions manifest bigger indiscretions. Before you know it, you speak and people stare at you, wondering if you are speaking the truth?

If you lie about something little, people think, "If he would lie about something so minor, why wouldn't he lie about the big stuff? 

Honor your word. It's really all you have.
Picture courtesy of http://blogs.nature.com

'Tis The Season...

Pre-Christmas Disquietude Syndrome (PDS)

I've looked it up in the medical books in my expansive library. Nothing. No such thing, but there should be and I've got a serious case of it.

Symptoms: Frequent explosive tears and just as frequent explosive use of expletives that truck drivers would frown on. Shoulders in permanent position about half an inch below ears. Lower lip raw from constant chewing. Overwhelming need for 3 Dutch Bros Kickers per day just to get through it. Did I mention explosive tears?

It doesn't help that my husband has had to work every day since November 1st, with the exception of Thanksgiving afternoon.

Yesterday was the topper! Dogs fighting and snipping (PDS must be highly contagious and transmittable to animals), Amazon order's that haven't arrived yet, emails that state the orders shipping is scheduled between December 27 and January 6 (despite paying $28 extra for expedited shipping).  I still have groceries to stock, a couple of gifts to purchase and sleeping arrangements to make. Worried about my sister and niece, worried about my mom and dad, sister-in-law in hospital with possible stroke, grandson still in extreme pain from 5 blown discs that is preventing him from sleeping at night, looking for home for the two precious but powerful pit bulls who I love but just can't keep and, of course, typical nuisances that are petty but distracting.

After we returned from church, shared a quickie breakfast of homemade tamales, my husband headed to work. The dogs and I hung lights, decorated the house and tree, opened boxes and checked lists (not twice but thrice and I don't care who was naughty or nice). Made several lists: To Do (necessary); To Do (would be nice but not necessary); To Buy (necessary); To Buy (would be nice but not necessary); To Be Thankful For (totally necessary for peace of mind and maintaining sanity....oops, too late!)

I tossed out the To Do (would-be-nice-but not-necessary version) but later dug through the trash to retrieve it, then added Hand Sanitizer to the necessary To Buy list.

I let the dogs in and out at least 30 times (each) which adds up to 90 times, added "mop the mud at family room slider" to the To Do list, (necessary) and underlined it.

My husband walked into the house, smiled at the lights and decorations, greeted the excited dogs (who were incredibly relieved to be saved by a sane human).  He walked over to me to give me a kiss. I could see him studying me, you know, that husbandly "is-it-safe-to-approach" study that wise husbands practice, much like lion tamers and maniacs who walk tightropes across open spaces between Manhattan skyscrapers and Grand Canyons!

He wrapped his arms around, squeezing tight. He said, "get your jacket, we're going for a ride."
Minutes later we were in the car headed west. He parked the car at a perfect overlook at Whiskeytown Lake. We were surrounded by fog, the opposite shore barely visible through the mist.

He lowered the windows of the Malibu. I got my first dose of just what the doctor prescribed...QUIET!  The silence and stillness was magnificent. We sat together for an hour as dusk approached and passed.

When we did talk, it was in whispers. We talked about vacation plans for next summer, ducks, geese and otters. The mist enveloped us in peaceful respite.

Have I told you lately just how much I love that husband of mine?

December 16, 2014

They Make Me Laugh


My stomach hurts from laughing so much and so hard.  My grown children have families of their own but they are still "my kids"!  Best yet, they are the funniest people I know!

We are planning a five-generation family portrait. We're talking color-coordination, inside/outside options; you know, photographic basics. Epic!

The photographer is my daughter, Nicole. Her portfolio is awesome not to mention her Photoshop skills.  In fact, I'm hoping she can "svelte-me-up" by erasing my double chin or, better still, pose me as chin-solo!

Nicole and I as we iron out the basics. We decide that each family will choose one color to wear, not matchy-matchy but coordinated. She chooses the color options that will blend beautifully. Then she informs me that one of my sons stated that he absolutely refuses to "dress up" for holidays. His belief is that holidays are for being comfortable.

"He'll probably show up in one of his Superman t-shirts!" she tells me.

"Cool!" I answer, "maybe we should assign his family the color blue."

"No way!" she insists, "We can't dictate or there will be dissention! Every family should choose their own color."

We agree. We message the whole family, date, color options to choose from; the look we're going for!We ask them to choose the color they most want for their own family.

Several dozen messages later the Five Generation Portrait has gone from classic, lovely, full color photo worthy of enlarging, matting and framing and hanging above the mantel for years to come to a full-on everybody in jeans and Superman shirts of various types.

Capes are clearly out but there is a bit of anarchy regarding black smudges on our faces from saving the world all day!

Superman t-shirts on my 86 year old parents, my husband and I, our children, grandchildren and great-granddaughter and I'M OKAY WITH THAT!

I'll still enlarge it, frame and mat it and hang it above the mantel because it will be the most accurate portrait of our family. Every time I behold those smiles and t-shirts, old and new on the old and new,  I will smile. I'll remember the messages that almost immediately busted into total anarchy making  my belly ache with laughter. I'll remember my grandson looking down at his phone as it went crazy with beeping notifications that the family was at it again.  After reading two dozen messages, he looked up at me and apologized for "leaving the conversation"!

"Nothing worse than 'non-sensicle' adults!" he smiled as he turned his phone off.

I'm looking forward to Superman day. I'm going to wear my best earrings and smile big for the camera.

I'll be counting myself lucky that we will not be dressing up as Storm Troopers, Tardis's or Sherlock Holmes. With this wonderful family it could have easily gone in any of those directions!

December 15, 2014

Ten Days

Christmas! I have a love-hate relationship with Christmas, but not the Jesus and Manger and Bethlehem part of it, just all the rest of it!

I want everything to be perfect. The perfection I speak of would include to give the "perfect" present to each of my grandchildren, for the tree to be glorious, for dinner to be delicious for 19 different palates and various food allergies.  I want the house to be warm and inviting even though 10 minutes after everyone shows up it looks as if I haven't cleaned in a year!

Is it wrong that I just want to tell all the grandchildren that we have adopted a family-in-need in their names and given them food and presents for their children, order 5 pizzas with various toppings, sit around the fire in our best pajamas (and by "best", I mean the oldest, softest most comfy, even if the butt is worn to paper thin!).

Can we play charades and talk and share our memories of the past year and our dreams for the coming year?

Can I decorate a wall with lights in the shape of a tree so that a beautiful noble fur doesn't have to donate it's life to "fill us with joy" for three weeks?

On the other hand, I can't wait for everybody to get here. I can't wait to see my granddaughters all dressed up, my mom and dad surrounded by their grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great granddaughter! I can't wait for family portraits and listening to my kids and their spouses joking around with each other or in serious conversations.  I can't wait for the giggles and guffaws.

I can't wait for the margaritas, the turkey and mashed potatoes.

Okay, mostly I love Christmas. I'm 85% Santa and 15% grinch....what can I say?