Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A few news pieces...
SNG has a blog! He probably won't update it more than once or twice a year, but right now he has a picture of the shed he built over the weekend. "Good jorb, Hamstrae!" -- Coach Z

SNG built a shed over the weekend. Actually, he and his dad built the shed together. Friday, SNG and I leveled the area where it would go. Saturday and Sunday, SNG and his did the barn-raising. Monday, I painted it while SNG put on the shingles. He's quite a roofer now! We still have to wait for some rain to know whether he's quite a good roofer.

While SNG and his dad built the shed, it pained me to refrain from helping. Y'all know I am quite the handy-girl. I was wielding hammer-and-nails while still in diapers, I had built several pieces of furniture by the time I left for college, and I even learned to arc weld in college (I learned tig and mig welding techniques, go me. And I wasn't half bad at it.). Set me loose with a roomful of power tools and I can build stuff. But the doctor says that I need to avoid heavy lifting and overheating, so it didn't seem like the best time to be building a shed.

So SNG's mom and I worked on some sewing projects inside. I've learned this about sewing my own clothes:
1. It takes far too long for what I get out of it.
2. I'm not good enough at it to modify patterns for the fact that my bust, middle, and hips are 3 different sizes.
3. When I'm finished, I have something that "looks home-made." And not in a good way.
4. Hunching over my little sewing machine is quite painful to my back.
But I did have a great time chatting with SNG's mom all weekend.

In short, I am still not, nor am I likely ever to be, a Domestic Goddess.

Just a regular old Goddess.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

At last, the confinement is over. And, since I had to teach on Sunday (at 8am, mind you!), I will be taking the day off tomorrow. Four-day weekend! Woowoo!

This weekend SNG's 'rents are coming to town to help with the old-fashioned Amish barn-raising going on in our very own yard. Actually, it's an 8x8 foot shed, and the men-types will do the barn-raising. SNG's mom and I will be ripping our hairs out trying to sew maternity clothes all weekend long. Well, actually, she'll probably be just fine as she actually knows how to sew beyond just a pretty-much-straight-line. She's already made a shirt, some pants, a skirt, some shorts in less than 2 weeks. I've had 3 identical shirts in the planned-but-not-made-phase for the past 4 weeks. I am determined to get those shirts one step closer to wearable.

So Domestic! Where's that horse-and-buggy?

In the meantime, I am spending one of the 2.5 remaining business days I have left to learn this goshforsaken new class that I'm supposed to be teaching very very soon. Trouble is that when I run the examples in the course on my computer, I don't get the same results as the ones shown in the book. This is the same software that has taken 1.5 business days to install each time I've had to install it. Which has been three.

But at least it's kind of like Friday today! 75 minutes to go!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Help! I am a hostage in a Crazyland first-class beach resort.

This week I'm at one of the larger of the lesser/regional user group conferences for the software I teach. It's being held at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point resort, a top-notch joint in the heart of the coastal FL everglades just outside Ft Myers. On the site are four mediocre restaurants (typical meal price for salad and an entree only plus tax & tip: $35); four pools, one with a water-park-styley super water slide and one with a waterfall; a ferryboat ride to a private beach; various gift and tchotchky shops; nature walks; and a full-service spa with such offerings as:
Watsu aqua massage
Sundari facial
Neem and Gotu Kola healing wrap
Warm stone massage
Sundari herbal soak
Thai massage
Sundari spa pedicure
and that's just a sampling, not to mention the usual hair and manicure services.

Somehow I'm not feeling your sympathy. But you have no idea how desperately I need to be rescued from this place. We were told by the conference liason and by the travel dept that we were not allowed to rent a car for the conference because everything we'd need would be available on-site. Independently, the expense department laid down a meal rate of $45 a day.

As the resort is in the middle of an everglades natural wetland, we are not in sight-distance of anywhere cheap to eat. Since I was teaching an early Sunday morning class, I brought some breakfast cereal from home. So breakfast was free Sunday and Monday. Lunch was $34, and not very good. After I finished teaching Sunday, I wanted to find a way to pass the time, as none of my colleagues had arrived, and I was bored to pieces. Nature walk! Perfect!

There is a 1/4 mile boardwalk through the wetlands to the ferry boats where I could catch a ride to the beach. Taking my time and reading about all the marshland plants and animals, looking at a white ibis hunting for sand crabs, and dodging lots of lizards, I reached the ferry boat in about 6 minutes.

The last boat had left at 3pm. It was 4:15.

Undeterred, I tried finding other routes through nature. While the typical retired Floridian vacationer may consider a 0.25 mile boardwalk (1/2 mile round-trip!) to be quite a workout, I do not. There were no other routes on the resort grounds.

Lucky for me, I have my brand new whale-in-a-minidress maternity swimsuit with me. Actually, I love the thing. It's so BIG! But it's so COMFY! And modest. It covers up all the stuff I want covered. It would look ridiculous on anyone who is NOT pregnant, but there's no hiding that bump, so I can pull it off right now.

So I headed for the pools. First pool-- too cold. It's a "refreshing chilled waterfall pool." Ehhhh, no. The next pool was the super-slide. Oh how I wanted to go on the super-slide! But it isn't the same if you're totally by yourself and wearing a big black muumuu and riding the waterslide among all the 8-12 year olds. I would probably be perceived as some kind of Floridian pree-vert.

The 3rd pool was the lap pool, but no one was swimming laps and it was the right temperature so I floated around in it awhile and then found a shady cot and slept in the breeze for a couple of hours. Dinner put me about $30 over the meal limit for just a salad and a sandwich. Grrrr. I borrowed a DVD from the resort's loaner library and watched it all by myself in my room (no, not one of THOSE movies. It was Spanglish, an Adam Sandler flick. Cute.).

The next day (Monday), I worked the demo room for the conference, answering questions about training and certification and chatting up the few people I knew from work, other conferences, or my Sunday morning seminar. One woman in particular who lives in Austin was a lot of fun and she ended up hanging out with a group of us that evening. So, having found a few friends, things were looking up. The conference provided lunch: a salad and a big hunk of carrot cake. Just what I need to stave off gestational diabetes. And typical of my diet since I've been here. After lunch I needed to get away. AWAY! Escape! I wanted to walk until I found civilization. I tied on some running shoes and struck out in search of a land free of mangroves, hawaiian shirts, and fufu frozen drinks.

I walked for 2 miles until I reached a muddy field with no sidewalk which separated me from a large highway and, on the other side, a strip mall. I had come so far, only to be turned away. There was no way I was going to brave crossing that highway. To add up the obstacles:
1. muddy field (would ruin my shoes and possibly expose me to a giant anaconda)
2. big highway-- I don't run as fast as the cars.
3. I'm in Florida, home to 5 of the 10 least pedestrian-safe cities in America. Seriously, I am not kidding. These people cannot--should not--drive.
4. I'm in Florida where they drive on the medians to avoid a slowdown at a red light. It isn't called Crazyland for nothin', people.
5. After the Cincinnati trip, I am certain that a segment of the population is intent on running over pregnant ladies.

That night, dinner cost over $50. I had a salad, an entree, some asparagus, and a teeny ball of lemon sorbet. Throughout the day (baby's got to snack), I'd purchased a coffee drink ($3.45), a muffin ($2.80), some popcorn ($6) and a small Lunchables ($6). Total food for the day, without having to pay for breakfast or lunch: about $70.

I was, and still am trapped, a 2-mile walk from the nearest non-resort civilization which may as well be a million miles, with a budget of $45 a day and nothing to do for free recreation except beach myself like a large maternity whale by the pool.

Please send a car.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Lots of women blog about their prenatal experience, right? So, my dear reader(s), I apologize if all these funky maternity-styley-observations wear thin, but I just have to share. It's for posteriority, you know. Someday, probably on Inch-high's prom night, I'll pull out the ultrasound picture of her little bottom and some old blog entries and won't she just be delighted? Or horrified, whatever. Any attention is good attention, as my dog has taught me.

Although I've felt her kicking around in there for a few weeks now, today I FELT her kicking. Like, I had my hand on my stomach (scratching-- stretching skin gets itchy) and Jab! Jab! Poke! she triple-punched my hand like a Bruce Lee extra. It feels very odd, too: sort of like eating a bad curry from outer space, only without the nausea. For Red Dwarf fans out there, remember the revenge of the Chicken Vindaloo? Apparently, I am cooking an alien chicken vindaloo. Like a biological Julia Child.

This story ties back to the subject, honest:
In Eagle Pass, TX-- the town where my mother grew up and where all the cousins and I spent our summer and Christmas vacations together on the family ranch-- there is an old legend of the Abuelita (little old lady in spanish) Who Walks on the old loop highway at night. According to lore, she was a victim of a hit-and-run accident, or perhaps picked up and killed, or perhaps just died of starvation after hitchhiking for many moons (depending on whom you ask). If you drive the old highway alone at night, sometimes you can still see her walking, walking, walking: a ghost! If you pass her, she disappears. And then REAPPEARS IN YOUR BACKSEAT (whoooooooooo!).

Fast-forward to now. I've been walking. A lot. To work, from work, after lunch, after dinner, all hours. SNG walks with me whenever he can. I am not riding much and running usually feels too joggly ("Never, never, never shake a baby chicken vindaloo!") so I walk. Walk, walk, walk. On a good day I alternate jog-walk in 1/4 mile intervals.

On Sunday, one of our neighbors, whose boys sell scout popcorn every year, came up to us and said "Well, you are just the walking queen, aren't you? I don't go anywhere that I don't see you walking around! When I was pregnant I just wanted to sit around eating bonbons, blah blah blah..." I gave her my half-true excuse that I was trying to keep my blood sugar under control (only half of the story-- I am also trying to keep my SANITY when I can't go get a super-intense workout and walking feels better than eating bonbons on the couch). Then SNG and I walked a little more.

It only occured to me later that I am becoming the legend of the Walking Pregnant Lady of Windy Woods. Pass me by, and I'll end up in your backseat! (Whooooooooooo!)

Monday, May 15, 2006

Addendum to today's post.
I looked at the website for the Umstead Coalition today. That's the nonprofit group that raises money and awareness for our beloved state park next door.

Look at what's on the main page:

Hint: Scroll waaaaaaaay down.

I emailed SNG to let him know we were part of the public record and he said:

Not fair! The other 85 people didn’t walk there and walk home and show up late and stop to talk to everybody… We know we’re not that slow. I wish they’d left us off the list. Last place, or best at being slow?

To which I say:

We're best at taking time to stop and smell the flowers. And to tee-tee on them.

We had a great time on the walk, but we certainly didn't realize we were being timed. Awesome.
Follow-up from previous post: In spite of the weather I was only rained on a bit. No lightning. I bet you were on the edge of your seat wondering about that. Oh, and I didn't see any bears, either. All in all, a good day.

We did lots of hiking but only a little bit of riding this weekend because of some bad weather on Sunday. In my "delicate state," my road bike fits about as well as my favorite miniskirt, so we're only riding mountain bikes and the tandem now. SNG found a riser for my stem and was able to raise my bars about 1.5 inches, just enough that I can breathe while pedaling. It'll have to come up more in a month or so, but for now it works. I hear stories about women doing serious training rides all through pregnancy, and I honestly don't know how it is possible. Physically, I mean. I'm only at 21 weeks, and on my road bike, my thighs squish into my belly half-way up the pedal stroke, making me have to put my knees-akimbo to the sides like a Shriner on a teeny bike. Do these women just have super-long torsoes? Are they riding hands-free the whole time, sitting upright? Should I switch to unicycle?

Sunday morning we got in a relaxing 5 mile hike in the park before a terrible storm blew through. SNG is in the process of re-varnishing our kayaks, and was sanding them in the garage, but when I saw the storm coming and heard the tornado warnings, I insisted that we put them back under the deck so I could put my sweet red convertible back in its rightful place, safely in the garage alongside the bikes.

It turns out we dodged the hail. Dianaverse's house was not so lucky. However, she needs a new roof, so maybe she was pretty lucky after all.

This morning I had to drive back to the doctor's office up in just-south-of-Canada again to have my ultrasound re-done. The technician forgot to get a picture of the 4-chamber-heart angle. So, back I went. To make up for the inconvenience (and for making me late to work), she gave me some more 4D pictures for free. She also did another gender-check, and again, girlie was mooning the camera cooperatively and we're really quite certain it's a girl. A couple of people have said they can't tell anything from the doppler radar ultrasound image, so I was glad she looked again. And the technician (who has been doing this for 20 years) was quite sure, again. Poor kid, people keep taking pictures of her privates.

If this turns out to be a boy, we'll sure be caught with our pants down, so to speak!

Inch-high has been extra wiggly over the past week or so: ever since the first round of pictures. She might just be getting bigger and thus the wiggles are easier to feel. Lately she has taken an interest in reaching a foot out to my bladder and stepping down hard. Or grabbing hold of my appendix, an intestine, or whatever is nearby and squeezing it. I can't really complain: it's not exactly first-class accomodation in there. It's more like a fancy Manhattan hotel room: expensive, noisy, cramped, but impeccably climate-controlled. And the food is outstanding. Perhaps she, too, will run into Jesse Jackson in the fitness center?

Run, Jesse, Run!!

Oh, if only I'd thought to say that instead of staring like a half-wit and tripping over my treadmill belt.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

I'm stupidly killing time at my office before heading out for my 4.5 mile walk home to write a blog entry. Why? I don't have anything interesting to say. But there is are scattered thunderstorms heading this way, and I'm just increasing the chances I'll get caught in the weather. Thunderstorms are up there in my top 2 natural fears:
1. Lightning
2. Bears

I'd come up with 3, but the other natural things that frighten me don't come anywhere close to the intensity of the fear of those 2 things. Thank goodness there are very few bear sightings in my part of North Carolina. I'm more likely to be killed my bloodthirsty deer or cattle running loose near the farm down the road than by bears. However, to our east and to our west, there are bears. Stephen Colbert may have put them on alert, but he lives in New York. Who will protect North Carolinians from the bears?

SO... I finished all the books I mentioned last week except for John Adams' biography. Still working on it, but as it's an audiobook, I only listen while I'm walking or jogging. Also reading The Five People You Meet In Heaven. If I could sit still for one evening, it'd be finished. It's an easy read, but so far kind of touchy-feely-feel-goody. Good for an evening of brainwandering. The Adams biography is interesting in part because I always hated history classes in school, but I enjoy historical documentaries and biographies. What I'm really saying is that I had many, many terrible history teachers and memorized many dates which I promptly forgot, and heard very few "stories" in school. So I've been making up for it in adulthood.

Well, there was that term paper on the period of King George III (the third? The second? I forget)and its influence on American architecture I wrote which made for some fun research. And by research, I mean walking around taking pictures of the buildings on SMU campus with my super-cute architecturally knowledgable boyfriend, who you all know as SNG.

I don't remember much about Georgian architecture. I was more interested in the tour guide. ;-)
OK, enough wasting time. I'd better git before the storms get here. If you don't see another entry for a few weeks, assume I've been struck by lightning.

Monday, May 8, 2006

Wanna see a picture of a pretty girl?

"Get these photographers out of my face! I got no clothes on!"

She pedaled thoughout the whole ultrasound like a little cyclist. I am concerned that SNG is planning to paint her nursery walls:
White with red polka dots
(Tour de France reference, for those of you not biker fans)

He has already picked out her first bike trailer, her first bike and her second bike.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Or whatever.

It seems that most people in Cincinnati are stuck, psychologically, at age 16. And surly. Yesterday I was almost run over in a grocery store parking lot, and the guy in the car honked at me (on foot!) and flipped me the bird. Because I had chosen to go into a grocery store at the crosswalk. He did, by the way, have to SPEED UP to get that close to hitting me. I don't get it. It is illustrative of the experiences I've had with Cincinnatiites so far.

But I still have 4 DVDs to watch.

At least I have not encountered any examples of poor grammar in printed materials at the hotel. Which reminds me!! The funniest SPAM comment came into the dogblog recently (the dogblog is still in stasis, by the way. Goofch has lots to say but Modean had all the computer know-how). Here it is:

Get your High School Diploma, Or any Desired College Degree, In less then 2 weeks.

Call this number now 24 hours a day 7 days a week (xxx) xxx-xxxx

Get these Degrees NOW!!!

High School Diploma "BA", "BSc", "MA", "MSc", "MBA", "PHD",
Get everything within 2 weeks.

100% verifiable, this is a real deal

Act now you owe it to your future.

(xxx) xxx-xxxx call now 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

I swear to you, I did not make this up (although I did mask the phone #). How many misused words and punctuation errors can you find? I could have obtained a "PHD" in less then 2 weeks, instead of the 4 years to get my Ph.D. So silly of me!!! My favorite is the use of quotes for "BA" and other "degrees." Because they're not really, you know, degrees. They're "degrees."

Act now you owe it to your future. All one big honking sentence, with no punctuation.


Monday, May 1, 2006

We had a terrific weekend, although I think it was especially good for Goofch. He got to bark at a great blue heron, some cattle, ponies, and even a few toads in the yard. We took 5 walks over the weekend, effectively turning G into a real pest every time sneakers or socks are visible.

We also took a tandem ride on Sunday with my new-and-improved upright seating position. I've still got a bit of the knees-akimbo going, but at least I don't have abdominal sqush so I can breathe easier. While we were out, we passed by the little goat fields near the house and took a bunch of pictures. I posted them on a webpage if anyone is interested, although I think the only person who cares is Katrin. So K, these goats are for you!

Today I'm headed for Cincinnati to be bored for 3 days and 3 nights. Luckily, I have 5 DVDs to keep me company.