What I've Done - Part Two

Here is the second installment of my list. This one, Dear Internet, promises to be much harder.

51. Got bit by a llama
52. Planted a rose that actually bloomed
53. Won the annual family NCAA basketball tournament picks competition
54. Became a hockey fan
55. Went 4-wheeling in the snow
56. Fed an ostrich
57. Rescued a dog
58. Painted a piece of furniture
59. Took a photo of the beach at sunrise
60. Hemmed a pair of pants
61. Assembled a bookshelf
62. Became a Pampered Chef(TM) consultant
63. Created a scrapbook (okay, created a scrapbook SERIES)
64. Gave away something I wanted
65. Remembered a dream
66. Slept through a movie
67. Found a whole seashell
68. Called a friend that I had not spoken to in ages for no reason
69. Taught a teenage Sunday School class
70. Put together a substantial music collection
71. Read book after book after book
72. Photoshopped my picture
73. Won a card game
74. Won the lottery ($2.00 - woo-hoo!)
75. Visited a 3-year-old with cancer, and later attended her funeral (this was the saddest event I have witnessed and it affected me profoundly)
76. Made a basket
77. Thought out of the box
78. Moved to a place with no Target in a 40 mile radius
79. Walked on the Golden Gate Bridge
80. Touched Josh Groban
81. Owned a piece of designer clothing
82. Sang in a community chorus
83. Fell in a parking lot in front of an audience
84. Took an astronomy class
85. Went bowling as an adult with kiddie bumpers in the gutters
86. Rode in a limousine to the airport
87. Got called down in go-cart racing for aggressive driving
88. Went window-shopping in a quaint town
89. Spent an afternoon lying in a hammock
90. Played miniature golf and kept the golfball as a souvenir
91. Picked up trash on the lake shore
92. Rode in the police boat at full speed
93. Toured the MOMA
94. Toured the Met
95. Climbed a tree
96. Rode in one of those carriages pulled by a biker
97. Canoed down a river
98. Went to Disney World
99. Watched a waterfall
100. Enjoyed time in the moment with the people I love


What I've Done - Part One

I read recently that it is a good spiritual exercise to try to write down 100 things you have done. This will help me reflect on past experiences and therefore make me a better person.

1. Fell in love
2. Got married
3. Graduated college
4. Adopted a dog who lives inside
5. Adopted another dog who lives inside
6. Built a home
7. Became pianist at my church
8. Crocheted an afghan (ok, my list is beginning to sound like I'm 89)
9. Took many hundreds of photos of flowers and buildings
10. Won an award for photographs
11. Was a Matron of Honor (twice, actually)
12. Held a newborn baby
13. Guided a baby sea turtle to the ocean at low tide (and yes, I touched it - I know you are not supposed to, but I could not resist)
14. Gave advice
15. Received advice
16. Visited NYC
17. Saw a Broadway play ("Wicked" & "Jersey Boys" were both AWESOME)
18. Touched the West Coast
19. Flew across the country
20. Saw a polar bear
21. Saw a snake in the woods
22. Hiked in the mountains
23. Spent the night outside
24. Learned to ride a bike
25. Organized a charity event
26. Watched all three Godfathers
27. Watched all the Star Wars
28. Played for a Guild
29. Wrote a play
30. Flipped a golf cart
31. Survived an attack of Yellow Jackets
32. Got an earring back stuck in my ear canal (that's a WHOLE other post)
33. Survived a tick bite
34. Rode a Lawn Mower
35. Wrote a book of poetry
36. Visited a nursing home
37. Spent an entire day just sitting out on a beach
38. Hailed a cab
39. Got "Senior" in my job title
40. Planted a tree
41. Sang in the shower (A LOT)
42. Danced with someone I love
43. Sang in front of people
44. Threw a shower
45. Came up with a secret recipe
46. Got a Jeep
47. Ate at a restaurant by myself
48. Prayed with someone
49. Chased a crab on the beach at night and picked it up (then released it)
50. Hugged someone hurting


Poor Chickens

For the last couple of days in my commute, I have gotten behind a chicken truck.

Have you ever seen one of these? It consists of cages and cages of poor little chickens with their feathers flying in the wind.

I am not against eating poultry, but I cannot help but feel sorry for all the chickens crammed in that truck.

Do chickens go through a thought process? If so, what goes through their little minds as they ride down the road? Are they excited to take a trip? Do they get scared as the wind rips their feathers off?

If I get pulled over for speeding to pass a chicken truck so that I don't have to stare at the chickens as they go down the road, will the cop give me a warning instead of a ticket?


Golf Cart Reflections

A few weeks ago my 9-year old niece, Toaster aka Monkey T, got a golf cart. Well, actually, her dad got a golf cart, but for all purposes it is hers. She is the one that drives it all the time.

Today she drove it over to my house, and asked me to let her drive me around. And then, she stuck out that upper lip that I can't say no to. So, I hopped on.

When J & I first decided to move here, I was unsure that it was the right decision. One weekend, Toaster & I went bike riding. She had training wheels at the time, so I figured I could keep up - death grip & all.

Things were going really well on our trip - until we hit a steep hill. Poor little Toaster couldn't go forward and started to roll backwards. She could not get her feet down to stop herself because of the darn training wheels. And before I could get to her, she rolled right back into a ditch down in the woods where I couldn't see her at all.

I threw my bike and went running to the place where she had gone down. Then I saw her. Right in the middle of an extremely thick briar patch with blood running down her face. The bike had landed on top of her, pinning her down so that she could not get up.

Without a thought, I jumped in the briars with her and got her out. There was lots of bleeding and crying, but her wounds were mostly on the surface. No concussion or need for stitches! I held her in my arms until she had calmed down enough for us to go back home.

It was in that moment that I knew that we made the right decision to move. Toaster is always so brave and strong, but in all her vulnerability at that moment, she had trusted me to take care of her. I was not about to let her down.

It didn't matter about getting cut up by briars, or the poison oak, ticks and spiders that were also down in the ditch. All that mattered was that she was okay.

So today, as we cruised past the spot where all of that happened, she turned to me and with a serious look said, "Aunt A, do you remember what happened here?".

I was taken off guard, since she is rarely serious, and I thought she would have forgotten about it after two years and many bike rides (but no more training wheels, ever) since.

"Of course I do T," I told her. "I don't jump in briars for just anyone, but I always will for you."

She grinned as we rode in silence for a while.

Then before I had gained my composure, she took off dramatically to the left, sending me crashing into the back of the golf cart. Well, one of us had to get a nasty bruise, and I am glad that it was me. I told her that. We laughed all the way home.


Oh, Baby!

This weekend my family threw a baby shower for my cousin Carrie. We are all very excited about the upcoming edition. Baby Alison will be the first great-grandchild for our grandparents so we wanted to make it extra special as only my family can.

Carrie chose an ocean theme for Baby Alison's room (my family loves the beach), so we carried the theme over for the shower. We decorated all the tables with seashells and candles. And what else you need for a hot day at the beach? Ice cream! So, we had a sundae bar!

Of course, right after the shower started it began to pour down rain, and the wind made it cold outside. But inside - summertime!

My cousin Lauren and I captured all kinds of interesting photos of the event. I would love to see Carrie's reaction when she sees all the pictures that Lauren took with her camera. Lauren. An empty punch glass. Lauren. A seashell. Lauren.

Lauren chased Carrie around the room trying to secretly balance items on her belly throughout the duration of the shower. For some reason, Carrie did not seems to want to co-operate. I think it would have been an excellent idea for a blog. Maybe if I ever get pregnant...


The New Commute

Shortly after the move to Ruralopia, I was lucky enough to find a job with a much shorter commute than the one that I was making to the city. The new commute is 20 miles, which is a large improvement over 57. As wonderful is that is, especially with the terribly high gas costs, it comes at a different price.

I don't consider myself a speed racer, but I did inherit the family lead foot. Therefore, I heavily rely on the miracle car invention that keeps me at a respectible 5 miles over - cruise control.

People in Ruralopia do not know how to use the cruise control. Perhaps it did not come on their vehicle or they just have not discovered it yet. Whatever the case, the person that winds up in front of me - always - is the one who finds it impossible to maintain a constant speed. This forces me to have to hit the breaks to turn off the cruise control, and transforms my generally pleasant driving demeanor into an agressive, lane-changing city driver.

People in Ruralopia do not understand the idea of being late for work or anxious to get home. When the speed limit is 55, Ruralopians think that it is best to maintain a much more safe 45. I have not gone one day without passing someone yet.

In the last part of my drive returning home, I rarely meet anyone. This gives me time to recover from my road rage so that my generally pleasant demeanor returns as I walk in the door.


Things That Buzz & Bite

With trees sprouting leaves and flowers blooming, spring is finally here! We have had winter temperatures much longer than normal around here, so I am thrilled for the warmth that spring brings!

However, with the spring comes a flock of my enemies - bugs.

Now I can deal with butterflies, ladybugs, etc. In fact, I rather like them. It's the ones that buzz and bite (or sting) that send me over the edge.

It all started a few years ago when we bought a 4-wheeler. J, my Dad, Molly & I took it over to my grandparents' home. They have a open wooded area (like that forest in "Kiss the Girls") with quite a few steep hills that were ideal for seeing what the 4-wheeler was capable of.

At the bottom of one of these hills, we decided to take a break for a little while. Dad & I stood there and I held Molly as we waited to see how fast J could take off going up to the top.

The next moments were surreal - horror movie style.

I could hear someone screaming as tiny flying elves stabbed them with knives. Repeatedly. I heard people yelling in my direction, but I could not hear what they were saying over the screaming and the heavy pounding of my heart. The screaming? Yep, that was me.

The only conscious thought in my head at that moment was "Save Molly", so I threw my little dog up the hill out of the line of fire. (Later I would hear how Molly thought she had been granted the freedom to run all over the woods with her leash dangling behind and not come when anyone called her. I don't remember any of that, but I am sure that she does and is just waiting for the next opportunity).

My hero J came zooming back down the hill and grabbed me, whisking me away from the traumatic scene.

A few minutes later, my brain caught up with what the rest of my body already knew. I had been attacked by a vicious swarm of yellow jackets. J had hit their nest, and apparently they did not appreciate it.

Did the drama end there? Of course not.

We remembered that J is allergic to bees and we were without Benedryl.

So, my Dad & I zoomed to a nearby drugstore. As we stood in the longest line that the store had ever seen, I could not hold still because of all the stinging. I am sure that the cashier thought I was a crack addict late for my fix.

In the end, we were all okay, although sore for a week or so. Oh, yeah. That, and the fact that I am scarred for life. Every time I hear a "Bzzzzz", I freak out and start screaming for J to come rescue me.

Now we live in the WOODS where I am sure that the little minions of darkness ALSO LIVE. It's going to be a longer spring and summer for J.


Welcome to Ruralopia

For the last 3 years, J & I have been building a house. The actual house-building took about 6 months. Building the driveway took the rest.

All my life I have lived in suburbs to decently-sized cities. You take things forgranted when you live in Suburbia. All the conveniences, such as grocery stores, shopping centers, etc. are all located nearby.

When J & I decided to build our dream house, J suggested that we do it in his hometown. This does have its advantages. We could have all the land that we want. We would be close to all his family. We could build a much bigger house than we would be able to afford in a larger city.

Problem - I am not a rurally-inclined. My idea of roughing it in a tent involves an air mattress, and a REAL bathroom nearby. Besides, the thought of the characteristics attached to people who live so remotely scare me a great deal. I HATE bugs and I am terrified of spiders. So, it was with great hesitance that I agreed.

Our land is WAY back in the woods. We are 8 miles away from the nearest convenience store. The closest house is 2/3 mile away. Our driveway (pictured) crosses two creeks.

Our first (and really only) roadblock was that driveway. Banks do not like to loan you money to build driveway into the woods. Especially if said driveway crosses someone else's land - even if they are family and even if you do have a legal document declaring right-of-way.

Overall, the homebuilding experience was wonderful. I love everything that we picked out, and the house is perfect. I even enjoy the spectacular views of the woods all around.

The new hometown - which I will call Ruralopia - is harder for me to get used to.


Molly Gets a Bath (aka How to Torture a Shih Tzu)

Molly, my beautiful long-haired Shih Tzu, has received a bath (nearly) every week of her life for 7 years. After the bath, an hour long (at least) combing session ensues. She should be used to it. Right?

If you watch Dog Shows or see Shih Tzus being bathed on Animal Planet shows, you may believe that this is no big deal. Those dogs lovingly stand still as their groomer goes to work. In the real world - not so much.

When Molly whines, she sounds like an abandoned 11-month old human baby. Max barks because he hears Molly whining and wants to protect her. If you happened to pass by the window, you would seriously question our dog-parenting abilities.

Our new house has a utility sink that Molly fits perfectly into. This means no more bathing her in the shower with me. Molly - doesn't care - she still hates it.

So after her bath, the utility room looks like a tsunami touched down on our house.

The combing session tonight was especially difficult. It was impossible to keep her still. Now that we are done, there is dog hair all over me, I am soaking wet and Molly proceeds to slide around face first on the floor tangling the hair I just spent an hour combing out.

I really do love that dog, but if she keeps it up, she's going to be sleeping in that sink.



This is Max, our 3 year old Shih Tzu.

He also believes that Molly is a princess.

He also has no idea what the strange black device is that he is staring at, and is completely unaware that he should hold still when I am holding that device in his direction.


This is Molly, our 7 year old Shih Tzu.

She believes that she is a princess.


The Birthday of Little E

My nephew E turned 3 today. To celebrate, his father and uncles put together a rocket for us to shoot outside tonight. I don't mean one of those little air pressure deals. This thing had a motor. All of the guys were hunched over all the various parts for an hour before the rocket emerged ("We don't need no instructions"). Then to the delight of all the 163 billion mosquitoes outside tonight, we paraded outside to see this wonderful feat in action.

Little E got to press the button. I really don't think he cared. His father told him this was "all for you, son", but what he really meant was that it was "all for your dad and his equally childish brothers, son".

The rocket sailed way up into the sky and then slowly parachuted back to earth. I just knew it was going to come and land on my head, but miraculously, that crisis was averted. Instead, I was able to get out of the way, and all the kids ran to catch it. One of them might have been successful if not for my determined husband J knocking them out of the way.

With a proud look of success on his face, he emerged victorious. Score!

Social Queen

Today I went to my hometown to visit my parents. When I was younger, I could never have imagined leaving this place. Now every time I come back, I realize how much I have changed and how much it...well, it hasn't.

To understand the whole setup, Internet, you need to know a bit of background information.

I have the best Dad in the whole world. He is a pretty quiet guy, but when he speaks it is because he has something important to say. He has this great, understated sense of humor that allows him to tell a killer joke - if you do not know him well, you do not expect him to say something unbelievably funny. He jokes that his motto is "Speak softly, and carry a big stick."

My Mom has a unique personality. She has a ferocious temper, but she can also be unbelievably sweet and thoughtful. The mood can swing steeply in either direction much faster than normal humans can keep up with it. She loves to create drama - something is always wrong, so one must tread lightly when asking the simple "How are you?" series of questions. Our personalities conflict pretty heavily, so we get along much better since I moved out.

So this weekend my parents had a Chicken BBQ at their church, so I met them there. Dad is battling his latest installment of the gout, plus a terrible allergy infection, so he was feeling miserable. Mom was in her element as the reigning Social Queen.

For me, this whole scenario induced sensory overload. My mother expected me to follow her Social Butterfly lead. Problem. I am not a Social Butterfly. I am a born Wall Flower. Furthermore, I do not remember a lot of the church people. (Hey, people look different after years go by!) I certainly do not know their children, or their grandchildren or their father's sister's friend.

I have some distant relatives that I always considered snotty, and of course several of them were there. Mom seized the golden opportunity to instruct me to "Go talk to JC", who is one of them. I never talked to JC when we saw each other every day. I have not seen her in three years. I have no desire to talk to her now. And since she does not have a sense of how loud her normal speaking voice is, I am sure that JC and everyone within a 500 ft radius also heard the directions I was given. I am also sure they noted the directions being completely ignored as I made my not-so-subtle escape.

The worst part of this type of event for me is the kid-bragging. The kid-bragging is normally geared toward the adult holding his or her child. "Aw A, this is baby 84635. Isn't she just the cutest? Look at her. Ssss." I have often wondered why my mother hisses at small children. I wonder what they actually think of it. Does it cause them to be terrified of snakes for life?

This kid encounter is followed up by an instant play-by-play of the encounter that just occured in case I missed something while I was standing right there. Next comes the full on word-for-word recap for Dad to hear. Sometimes it must be recapped for others as well.

J & I have tried for 6 1/2 years to conceive a child. These kid-bragging situations would be painful enough for anyone, but it is really difficult when you are facing infertility issues. I mean, come on, is a little sensitivity too much to ask for?

All in all, despite what I have just described, it was a good trip. No one died and everyone is still speaking. That's what I call progress. Now I am exhausted.

Growing Up in the Hood

I am an only child. Am I spoiled? Absolutely not. Overprotected? Absolutely.

Until I was married, I had never ridden on a lawn mower. My mother had a co-worker who stuck her hand down on the ground while riding hers, and let's just say that the outcome was rather unpleasant. Apparently, I would have been dumb enough to try that myself, so I was not allowed near ours.

I was not allowed to ride my bike outside my driveway. When you live on one acre of land, that makes for a dull adventure. Thus, I never got past the training wheels stage until I was 21. To this day, I still have a death grip on the handle bars which takes so much energy that I cannot ride very far.

I could go on and on, but I am sure that you get the point.

Being without brothers and sisters made me especially close to my cousins. We hung out frequently, usually at my grandparents' house. I found pictures of all of us running around in the yard that brought back lots of fond memories. This was until I realized one common denominator in all of them - I'm the one in the hood.

According to my mother, when it's windy outside you are automatically doomed to catch any virus that you may have been in contact with during the last 5 years. In her view, that hood saved my life on multiple occasions.

If Mom was in my general vicinity, she had an uncanny telekinetic power that would trigger an alarm if I had secretly pushed it down. Then she would appear out of nowhere and ensure that the hood was returned to its proper location.

If she had told me the hood was an invisibility cloak or wearing the hood was a great disguise for a top secret spy, I would have embraced the idea. But no, it had to be a medical reason. I am positive that this issue alone has caused my borderline hypochondria to this day.

Anyway, everyone else got to run free in the wind without fear of death and debilitating sickness. But me? I was the one in the hood.


A Guide to My World

I have decided to make this blog semi-anonymous. Jakob Nielson says this is a bad idea. And I love Jakob Nielson. For those of you who aren't as much of a web design geek as I am, you may not have heard of Jakob Nielson. Therefore, maybe you won't care that I remain anonymous. Jakob Nielson is the pope of usability. If you have a website or blog or whatever other web outlet, and you CARE, you should read his stuff.

Jakob Nielson says that you should share your identity so that your readers can relate to you. But, I this is MY blog, so I am remaining anonymous. Why? Because I have enough drama in my life, and the last thing I need to do is add more. My intentions are the creative outlet thing, so I don't need to worry about offending someone or something with what I write. Kudos to the people that just put that true identity out there and don't worry about what they say. I am just not one of those people.

So, Internet, we need to come up with code names. It will be like a throwback to elementary school and the elaborate clubs kids come up with because they either A) All love someone; B) All hate someone; C) All fans of someone/something or D) All ban together for survival reasons.

Here's the decoder for my super-fabulous club:
  1. A = me. This is my top secret first letter of my first name.
  2. J = my wonderful husband. He's the last person I would want to offend if he were to come across this site. Besides, my quirks are plenty enough for him to deal with already.
  3. Molly = Molly, the world's greatest girl dog. She is a Shih Tzu, and she was born 10/06/2000. She is my first inside dog and I adore her.
  4. Max = Max, the world's greatest boy little dog. Also a Shih Tzu, Max was born 08/19/2004, full of energy, and also has me completely smitten.
  5. Cedar = Cedar, our puppy. He was a rescue from the local animal shelter. He is part German Shepherd and we are not sure what else. He was born in late May of 2008 by our estimates.
  6. Ruralopia = home town. This is the small anonymous rural town where I now live. More on that for another day, another time.
  7. Golfville = where I work. This is the small town centered on the golf industry where everyone lives in a country club and competes for the best grass.
  8. J Family - We live on sort of a "family estate" with most of the rest of J's family. He has 3 brothers and 1 sister. All but one of the brothers lives on the estate. I have 4 nieces (Cool A, Toaster aka Monkey T, Meltdown, Mysterious L) & 6 nephews (Sweet T, Little E, S the Boss, Super H, Farmer C, Baby G). This crew ranges in age from 1 (Baby G) to 18 (Cool A).

About Me

I'm A, a web designer/developer/project manager living in an quaint small town in the eastern United States. In 2000, I married my college sweetheart, J. Now we live in a lovely home that we built in 2007 with our two incredible Shih Tzu dogs named Max & Molly, and a fun-loving outside dog named Cedar.

On January 30, 2009, I gave birth to our beautiful daughter, Grace, at 31 weeks.

This blog is about my life, and the all the "drama" that a semi-normal (yet quirky) individual faces on a regular basis.

I am choosing to remain semi-anonymous to protect my family, friends and my general standing in society from the things that I might confess here. This blog is a catharsis for me, and I want to keep it as honest as possible without having to worry about offending the people I love. So, if I do not mention my real name or their real names in this blog, maybe they will not find it!

The photo on the left is of me on my wedding day. I did not actually get married at Taj Mahal, nor have I ever been there. In fact, this is probably as close as I will ever get. This is just one of the digital art pieces from my "A Gets Married All Over the World" collection. The collection also includes France, Italy, Egypt, China and a host of other locations.

In my spare time, I love music, digital photography, reading, miscellaneous craft projects, studying wildlife and spending time with my dogs. I also have a secret soap opera addiction to General Hospital.


"So why lemonologie?" you may ask.

Excellent question. I wish I could tell you someting uber-creative, elaborate reason about how I am obsessed with lemons to the point where everything in my house is yellow and smells like pie. But, that is just not the case. I like lemon-flavored things, but there is no obsession involved.

I thought about what I wanted this blog to be about - my life and the normal, everyday drama that regular people such as myself face, and I was reminded of that old saying "When Life hands you lemons, make lemonade." Or something like that. Since my life is full of lemons, it could work.

Then I started seeing lemons. Really. No drugs involved, I promise. I would go shopping and there would be lemons on pillows. I threw a party at my house and my sister-in-law brought lemon dessert, etc, etc, etc.

So I decided I wanted lemon something. I could easily use lemons to build a theme. Maybe even a happy theme. Plus, as an added bonus, it's fun to say. Try it. "Lemon, lemon, lemon." Almost as fun as "llama", but without the spitting and biting. That's another post for another day.

So I went to my bestest, most trustworthy online friend - Google. I did a search for several varieties of the word lemon - lemonicious, lemonate, lemonator, lemonflower, purplelemon. All returned a bunch of results, and I didn't want that. I want to be UNIQUE. So, when "lemonologie" returned void, I was thrilled.

There you have it. Okay, maybe it IS an elaborate reason and it only makes sense to me.


For the last several years, I have pondered what I want to do with my life. I am 29 years old and married to a great guy. We have 2 dogs that I adore. I am blessed to have people in my life that love me and willingly deal with all my quirkiness. I have never been without a steady job. I have a lot going for me.

But somehow, my attempt to live a "normal", happy life always falls short of my own expectations. Inherently, I am just not a happy person. Something always gets in the way.

So, during this time of soul searching, I am finding that maybe it is okay for me to be to just be me. I attract drama, and I am learning to own that. However, this ephiphany does not make the day-to-day any easier. So I have decided I need an outlet, and here I am.

I have decided that I will pour out my heart and soul to you, Internet, and so this blog was born.

I have had a blog for a number of years. We'll call it the Other Blog. I post things about issues that I care about, music I like, sites I find online, you know - just like the other 7 million people that do the exact same thing. In the Other Blog, I rarely post anything personal. Okay, with the exception of pictures of my Beautiful Dogs and my Amazing 10 Nieces and Nephews. Oh, and the house that took us two years to build. But no real personal writing.

I am not starting this blog to be unique (because of the other 7 million blogs that are the same thing) or even to entertain. I am starting the blog for me. If it helps someone else to read about my drama...well that's just icing on the cake. A lemon cake.