What the heck is a power femme?

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You would think in writing this blog for the past six months it would have dawned on me at some point to explain why I have, or rather how I earned, the nickname Power Femme. However, you’d be wrong — well, until this morning that is. Femme Wonder mentioned it offhandedly a while back and it went in one ear and right out the other, likely jumping the turnstile in the middle to speed up the process.

In my estimation (at least my definition) of Power Femme would be a woman who is strong, a bit feminine but can still hold her own. I think that describes me well. I like to think I am a pretty tough cookie, albeit a sweet one likely covered in sprinkles and probably full of… chocolate.

But here’s how I got the name.

Years upon years ago, I want to say 2000, I was living with another Robin. It made for some interesting phone conversations to determine which of us the caller wanted. (Aah, the days of house phones.) Anyway, Robin bought a house in a decent neighborhood back home but the house was a fixer-upper to say the least. Unbeknownst to her at the time, she’d bought the house of the neighborhood drug dealer that practically every neighbor was happy to say good riddance to. One even took the “For Sale” sign out of his yard when she introduced herself as a jail officer.

Getting the house ready to move in was a nightmare of sorts. Doors and windows had to be replaced. You never think when buying a house that you need to inspect every pane of glass in the windows to ensure they are there. When I managed to windex the bushes in the front of the house… I learned this is something you need to do.

Femme Wonder spent hours upon hours with us bleaching, mopping, painting and more to get the house in order. It’s pretty bad when Beccie splashed bleach on the wall accidentally and discovered that minty green kitchen was actually baby blue.

Part of the prepping process of the house was to paint the inside of the closets. The two-bedroom house was unique in that the closets connected the rooms to one another. The bedrooms shared a long closet between them and the second connected the front bedroom to the living room. We had removed the long shelves from the closet, moving them to the garage for painting purposes. They’d been drying outside for several days as other projects occupied our time. Finally, they were ready to return, and Beccie and I were ready to earn our nicknames.

Robin had left to go somewhere. She might have made her 1,000,000,000th trip to Home Depot or Lowe’s, maybe she was getting lunch, I don’t remember. What I do remember is she left Bec and I in the house alone with a determination that we too could be savvy with home repair.

We were given the task to put the shelves back into the closets. This should have been a no-brainer and certainly an easy enough task for two competent women such as ourselves to accomplish, right?

We carried the first one into the closet and it went in fine — a little loose, but fine. A shared high-five led us to shelf two, and that’s when we hit a snag. This one was just a little too big. We struggled, strained and tried everything short of slabbing butter on it. With glistening brows covered in sweat and not just because it was summertime in Kentucky, we began to discuss what the problem was and what the most logical solution would be.

We deduced that the wood must have swollen due to it sitting outside for however long it had been there. Kentucky summers are nice and humid, surely that would have caused the wood to expand. Well, with the problem determined, next we needed a solution. Like kids in a candy store, our faces lit up and our mouths curled up into mischievous grins as we saw the answer to our dilemma… a power saw.

Now, to be fair, Beccie tried to talk me out of it, I think. The argument being with the chute attached for blowing sawdust out of the way, we’d make a mess. Once I agreed to clean it up and to operate this thing in case Robin was upset, we were full steam ahead.

I should tell you, I can’t cut a straight line to save my life. Using a power tool I had never tried did not increase my odds either. With the saw above my head, I tackled that board now impossibly wedged in the closet. After multiple passes I had taken a good six inches off one corner and maybe half an inch from the other on the end I could get to.

I let go of the trigger and set the saw down to survey my handiwork. Beccie and I both were covered in sawdust and sweat but let out a triumphant cry as the shelf fell into place. It wasn’t soon after the front door opened and Robin returned to see us both pleased with our “accomplishment.”

I explained how proud we were but that she should refrain from putting anything heavy on that corner, since it really no longer existed. We’d managed to place a few items in the closet to cover it up.

Robin, trying to be diplomatic, nodded her head as we spoke, grinning ear to ear. She wiped her hand across her face before quietly speaking.

“You do realize you could have just switched the shelves out, right?” she asked.

Following our “triumph,” Power Femme and Femme Wonder were born, and we were never left alone with anything beyond a screwdriver or a hammer again.

Bring on the party!

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It’s one month til my birthday! One month til my birthday! If I didn’t think my co-workers would find me stranger than they already do, I’d start a conga line singing that mantra. As it stands, I am dancing in my chair. Da-da-da-da-da-da!

While another year older can occasionally be a bit distressing, this year I think will be okay. I have a theory as to why, but for me, turning 25 was one of the hardest birthdays I’ve had. Several friends have agreed with me so I am thinking I am not alone in this. My theory is that at 25 I started looking at friends and other classmates from high school to compare where they were to where I was in my life. Several had graduated from college. Others had gotten married and started families. Many had begun what I’d refer to as a career vs. a job. At 25, I had none of that, unless you count the four-legged children. It really made me question where I was and where I wanted to be. When I was 18, I was so sure by 25 I’d have graduated and found my dream job, dream spouse and started on my dream family. That wasn’t the way the cookie crumbled, and in hindsight I am thankful I didn’t get what I wanted then. Aah, the wisdom that comes from getting older, I suppose.

My biggest concern this year is a theme for my party. Last year was a no-brainer. I had a Lord of The Rings/Hobbit inspired party. As my fellow “ringers” may know, hobbits are not considered adults until they reach the age of 33. With that knowledge in mind, I greeted my guests with lots of food adorned in a cape and hobbit feet. But this year? I am not sure what I want to do this year.

Two years ago we went out for dinner, bowling and I had a Monster High cake. (Yes, if you haven’t clued in by now, I am a big kid at heart). I am seriously considering a Harry Potter themed party in honor of my Mother, but part of me wants to wait until March and have that party for her instead on her birthday. Yeah, I think that is the better choice. Well, that leads me back to square one. Hmm. You know… When I think about the past year, with all of its ups and downs, I think I can best describe it as I survived. I made it through regardless of what was thrown at me, even when I didn’t want to or think I could. And with the premiere occurring on my birthday weekend… The Walking Dead it is. If I survived 2014, I plan to thrive in 2015. Just like Rick and the others. I can face whatever comes my way, even if I lack epic katana skills.

Happy 34th birthday to me! Now to spend the next month on Pinterest researching zombie-themed party foods. (Like I needed an excuse to pin things.) But for those who want to send me a gift… Daryl Dixon with a bow on his head would be well received. Just sayin’.


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The past few weeks have been a bit crazy getting back into work and launching a big sale on our Dovesland Creations Facebook page. We are clearancing out a good portion of our current stock to make way for new inventory. I haven’t felt much like creating as of late, but I can honestly say I am starting to get that twinge of excitement in my stomach about the jewelry business again. Femme Wonder and I have been looking towards 2015 with a renewed confidence and a hope that this year we will continue on an upward trend. No, we won’t be changing our last names to Rockefeller anytime soon, but I’d like to keep on the trend of breaking even at least. I am also excited about a few new directions creatively we are heading in.
I have some other personal goals for next year as well. I’ve decided I want to finally learn how to use my sewing machine. Right now it does a great job collecting dust in the cabinet, but I am pretty certain it has other uses I’ve not fully explored. While I enjoy cross-stitch, I don’t always feel it produces something tangible. What I mean to say is, I can make nice wall hangings or decorate a towel, but in and of itself it doesn’t create a useful item. With sewing I can create clothing, blankets, curtains etc. and feel that what I’ve done has an honest purpose.
I can hand sew … sort of. I learned in Girl Scouts YEARS ago — maybe it was in school — but we learned simple stitches to sew on a patch or hem a pair of pants. Earlier than that, I spent many a night at my Granny’s sewing buttons onto a dish towel. Both skills have made random appearances in my adulthood, but I am convinced mastering the machine is probably the way to go.
I’ve refocused recently on cooking ahead and canning. My typical Saturdays are spent in the kitchen either prepping meals for the next work week or canning. Sometimes I’ll branch out and do things like making my own laundry detergent, which so far has yielded mixed results. Cooking ahead is definitely convenient during the workweek, and I genuinely enjoy it. Now if I can pick up a few healthier recipes to trim the waistline I’ll be even better off.
Now, you might say these sound like New Year’s Resolutions. But I’d say nay. I can’t keep a resolution for the life of me. Several years ago I made a resolution to never make a resolution and I couldn’t even keep that one, so what does that tell you?
No, no, these are solutions. I can handle coming up with a solution to a problem. I like to fix situations and come up with answers. So this year, I am sending myself a message a Re:Solution memo. (Yes, I realize this is the same thing, but shhh don’t tell me that!)

Pain in the … knee

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My knees and I have been inseparable since birth. Heh. You are thinking, “Wow, you don’t say?” But in the middle of the night, my right knee in particular decided to make its presence known — and felt.

My dad always said he had “pool shooting knees.” There are pictures of my dad and me going fishing when I was a kid wearing cut-off shorts in the summer that would suggest I inherited this trait. While it isn’t noticeable if I stand up straight, my knees tend to bow backwards just like my dad’s. While yes, this could be an asset when leaning over a table with cue in hand, it probably isn’t the best for Average Joes who aren’t pool sharks.

Standing straight became more of a conscious effort when I entered choir in elementary school. Those knees held me up on risers through my senior year, and I made a conscious effort to bend at least one periodically during concerts to keep them from locking up and me from tumbling down. At least Mr. Stegner, our director, always cautioned us that would happen if we were too stiff for too long.

If I knew then what I know now, I’d have been nicer to my poor knees. Crazy stunts like sliding across a dance floor on them in my younger years looked cool. But, I am sure I am now reaping the results of my actions. Over the years I’ve asked a lot out of my knees. I am now pushing their limits, being the heaviest I’ve been in my life. If you go by what charts say I should weigh, I have exceeded their capacity by a good 200 pounds. I should be thanking them for hanging on this long.

The pain, particularly in my right knee, began a few years back. I’ve always chalked it up to cold or rainy weather. I could probably strap a rooster on my leg and use it as a weather vane. There were a few days that got the better of me and left me struggling to walk, but I just let it slide.

At Monday’s staff meeting, it took me a bit longer than usual to get up out of my chair. The chief noted that my limp is getting a bit worse and suggested I get it checked out. He’s probably right, and it has been at the forefront of my mind since but I am a bit nervous to find out what’s really going on.

The pops and creaks that used to make for stupid human tricks now sing a symphony that screams, “Go have me looked at!”

I also hear Dad echoing in my head, saying if I didn’t learn to stand up and bend my knees the right way I’d need a replacement by the age of 30. I chuckle that had I been raised in Alabama and not Kentucky, perhaps he’d have gotten me “magic shoes” to do just that.

On Tuesday I talked to another reporter who suggested a chiropractor might be able to fix the issue. I stay so busy I don’t think I can afford, financially or sanity-wise, to be put on the sidelines recovering from a full knee replacement. All I know is I have to do something, and what that will be scares me.

A tale of two bunnies

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Last Friday marked two weeks since I got the phone call my mother had passed away. It was my first Friday back at work since it happened. I still feel like I am sort of moving through days in a bit of haze, and at times the whole thing seems rather surreal.

I was grateful for the distraction of building a parade float with my colleagues. We had a good time shivering and sharing the experience. It provided quite a few good laughs to keep my mind distracted. Surprisingly, I only caught myself a few times having thoughts of “This is when I got the call” or “This is where I was when…”. Heck, I even found myself eating the same thing for supper I had two weeks prior albeit this time it was with two coworkers/friends instead of behind the wheel of a car pulling an all-night road trip to Kentucky. But, in spite of all that, I held it together and was pretty dang proud of that.

While we were waiting to leave the Globe and go get in line for the parade, the four of us crammed into Julie’s Dad’s pickup, and I observed a bunny across the street near the library. I would have normally dismissed this with an “Awe, how cute” and went on with life. However, with the little voice of sadness in the back of my head still wreaking havoc, my thoughts instead turned to how out of place the image seemed to me.

In Ocheyedan, we have tons of rabbits that frolic yard to yard, but I deem that normal due to it being a more rural setting in comparison to Worthington. This bunny, in my stinkin’ thinkin’ mind. seemed alone and out of place, much like me. That surrealness I mentioned isn’t surreal, it is my reality and a new “normal”. My phone has not rang in the familiar ringtone that would indicate my mother was on the other end. When you are used to hearing that daily, it leaves a resounding, deafening silence.

As quickly as all of that entered my mind, it exited as we headed toward the lineup. The emptiness was once again replaced with laughter and last-minute float repairs. (Darn you, wind!) I then left the troops to go set up the video camera and record the holiday procession.

It was nice to see the creativity of the different floats, and I commend the children walking through the parade. It was bitterly cold, and I am not sure if I’d have been as brave. I had fun enough trying to keep my fingers from going numb to press record.

Afterwards, I walked back to the Globe office, with my camera in tow, alone. Without missing a beat, I felt that sorrow tugging on me again. I quickened my pace to cut down on the amount of time the brutal wind was torturing me when I saw something across the street.

There, in the light of a street lamp, was my bunny, but this time he had a friend. Upon this sight I felt a smile creep back over my face. The vision of these two rabbits hopping across a parking lot now seemed normal and not so out of place. And as silly as it may sound, it warmed my heart to know in spite of everything, I and the bunny were not alone.

Observations at a funeral


   On November 7, my mother suddenly passed away at the age of 54. When I was sitting here thinking of a blog topic, the running thought in the forefront of my mind was to dedicate this to her. I could speak on   her life; what an amazing woman she was. I could go the opposite way and dredge up her personal demons in an effort that others suffering through similar issues might find comfort or solace. But seeing as most readers of this didn’t know her and I’d prefer to have a day of not crying, I decided to turn my focus slightly towards sharing a few of the things I learned through this process.

People will amaze you.

   My mother was a very well-liked individual who did a lot of work with various non-profit organizations to better her town. With that in mind, it was no surprise to me that a large outpouring of people gathered for her visitation. (Heck, I’m one of 27 first grandchildren. Even if just family showed it would be at capacity.)

   What I didn’t count on was who would come out of the woodwork to support me.

   I haven’t lived in Kentucky in eight years. I knew a few close friends would be there; they told me so. But I could have been knocked over with a feather to see friends from high school I’d not seen in nearly 15 years arrive, and even more surprising, friends I had not seen in 20 years. Femme Wonder’s cousin even showed up. People drove over an hour to pay their respects and show support for me and my family. I will forever be grateful for that and remain awestruck that it happened.

   On the flip side, some people shocked me in a not-so-good way. I have one friend back home who I had really expected to step up to the plate and be like glue. Well, that’s what she told me would happen anyway. Adding that she worked with and knew my Mom well, it seemed a no-brainer to me that this would occur barring a small act of God or work keeping her from being there.

So when I was blown off twice before the visitation, I was mildly miffed. Her short 15-minute appearance at the visitation sort of solidified that ugly feeling in my gut. I would have been fine except for her closing remark as she left. Apparently the visitation “wasn’t her scene.”

   Wasn’t her scene? Well, I think I can safely wager unless you are a mortician or work in the funeral trade, spending time in a funeral home isn’t really “your scene.” It’s a visitation, not happy hour. It’s one of those things you just do because it is what is expected, not because you intend to have a good time.

   A few blogs ago, I touched on an observation of society switching to the need to Facebook every life event, no matter how trivial, and the general lack of compassion. I got a first-hand account of this phenomenon as well. A friend of mine I’ve not seen in roughly eight or nine years showed up at the visitation and funeral the next day. He’s a bit hyper and a bit of a chatterbox, but he means well. Trying to make me laugh, while a bit annoying at times, was a heartfelt attempt to lighten a darkened occasion. Grabbing me around the neck for a half hug before entering the funeral home would have been fine, had he not chosen that moment to take a “selfie” of us and then post it to Facebook.

   Really? There is a time and a place for everything. Call me old-fashioned, but you don’t take a selfie at a funeral! You don’t need to update your Facebook status in the funeral home! Holy cow. How could this be considered acceptable behavior?

   You bring food to a family at a funeral, at least where I am from. As Annelle in Steel Magnolias would say, you bring something from the “freezes beautifully” section of your cookbook. You send cards. You send flowers or make a donation to the deceased’s cause of choice. You offer your condolences. You don’t take selfies. Repeat it with me: you don’t take selfies at a funeral.

None of it matters except for family.

   My family is loud and boisterous — and that’s putting it nicely. If there are any Big Brother fans reading this, my cousin is Chef Joe from season 14. It runs in the family. Being the often loud, and more often opinionated, stubborn bunch that we are, conflicts happen fairly regularly. It’s usually a toss-up as to who is speaking to who which week. However, tragedy miraculously brings people together.

   Under penalty of my wrath, my warning of “no drama” preceded me as I drove in from Iowa. Amazingly, it was heeded. Everyone got along. If one positive can come from this whole thing, a few beefs were quashed, at least for now. I see that as a triumph and something my Mother would have been proud of.

   Going through my Mother’s things brought my brother and I closer than we’ve probably been in years. Mom was always complaining we needed to spend more time together, and now, I can honestly say we are. I’ve never been more proud of him than watching him step up and take care of things, namely me. I love you, Shane.

You have to laugh.

   My brother and I teased that we were planning one of the most irreverent funerals in history. That wasn’t entirely true, but we wanted to make our Mom’s send-off a time of laughter and happiness and less sorrow. Of course it is a sad situation and, trust me, my six-year-old niece left no eye dry in the house speaking about her Granny. But, you have to focus on the good times. At least we did.

   Even this week, trying to unpack a few of the things I gathered from my Mom, I had to laugh. I opened up her cookbook. That alone was amusing, since the cooking genes went to my cousin and skipped Mom entirely. But inside were several folded pieces of paper which I assumed were recipes. You know what they say about assuming… it’s true. While I was expecting a secret family recipe I was greeted with the knowledge that my Mother had a clean bill of health at her annual exam in 2006 according to the Jessamine County Health Department. I was also glad to know she paid her rent in 2002 and still had the receipt to prove it tucked safely away inside that unused cookbook.

   I love you, Mom. You have made me who I am today in a number of ways. I’m sorry to see you go. I won’t forget you. I’ll take care of Shane and the girls, don’t worry. I miss you Mom. Goodbye for now.

Happy Halloween Y’all!

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Growing up as a product of divorce, Christmases, birthdays, Thanksgivings and such were a bit of a hassle to decide who got me what year and for what holiday. As I grew into my teens, those family holidays turned more often than I care to admit into arguments with my father which I suppose have tainted my outlook as well.

As an adult, I’ve come to appreciate multiple aspects of the holiday. On the surface, and what most people “celebrate,” is the joy on the faces of kids as they ring my doorbell and wait for a treat. My furry children wouldn’t do well going door-to-door, so I have to live vicariously through my visitors.

Traditionally, dating back thousands of years ago, the holiday was celebrated as Samhain. Samhain is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. In ancient times it was believed that the veil between the worlds of the living and the deceased was the thinnest, allowing spirits to walk among the living.

At the time, the holiday celebrated loved ones who had died but also wanted to assure malevolent spirits did not remain.

Depending on your source, and there are many interpretations, a number of items we associate today with Halloween stem from the roots of Samhain. Jack-O-Lanterns are said to have been used as a light to bring deceased loved ones close while the scary faces kept others away. In Europe, gourds or other vegetables were used. Settlers here discovered pumpkins were far easier to use and the tradition continued. Other sources say the carvings were meant to imitate spirits or goblins.

Trick-or-treating itself dates back to medieval times in the form of mumming, souling or guising, again depending on what you read. In all three, people went door to door in costumes either to collect soul cakes in exchange for prayers for the souls of the giver or parading the streets in masks and fancy dress and entering houses. Costumes closely tie into this as well, either used as described in guising or for disguising the wearer from unwanted spirits.

I’d encourage everyone to research the traditions for themselves. Halloween often gets a bad rap as being a satanic holiday or inherently evil. At its core, it really isn’t. It was a fall festival celebrating family and a good crop before winter set in.

As for me, I’m working this year. Sadly, I won’t be able to see the adorable faces or count how many superheroes or princesses come to the door. Sorry Ocheyedan, I have to pass on the yard decorations this year as well. But don’t fret, dear reader, I am still celebrating in my own way. I’ll be the one in the hobbit costume in the newsroom snacking on some spooky themed treat. Happy Halloween and Samhain, everybody!

Appleocalypse and stitching

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The past couple of weeks have been interesting on the home front. This year my good friend Jonah has been teaching me about canning. Much to my husband’s delight, and more often his chagrin, I’m slowly becoming a canning diva. While he appreciates the yummy product at the end, the stacks of dirty dishes in the sink along the way are a bit less appealing.

I am one of those people when I get something in my mind, I dive in head first and ask questions later. This can be a good trait, I suppose; but more often I inevitably get in over my head and, despite my most valiant efforts, I don’t always follow through on said project. This mentality is what led to what we’ve affectionately coined “Appleocalypse” or “Applegeddon” 2014.

On top of being overzealous with projects I am also pretty frugal. A couple of weeks ago, Jonah called and said he’d found a property owner who’d let us pick apples for free, and we could have as many as we’d like. The trees weren’t chemically-treated, to boot. Well, this set off all sorts of bells and whistles in my brain.

Here was my chance to not only test my canning muscle, but get a little exercise, eat a little healthier and to top it off it was free. Woot!

Early Saturday morning Jonah, Femme Wonder and I piled into his van armed with five gallon buckets, extension ladders and a good dose of humor and friendship. An hour or so later, we emerged with 10 of those buckets filled to the brim along with a few larger plastic totes. Jonah took two or three to add to his own apple stores, and the rest was hauled into my kitchen one container at a time.

Over two days, Beccie (Femme Wonder), our friend Wendi and I fought our way through the stockpile. When the dust settled we had 53 pints of applesauce, 44 quarts of frozen slices, 18 pints of apple butter, nine more gallons to dehydrate on top of what we’ve already done and made Erin’s horse Faith and her equine friends happy with the ones too small to process. For once, I finished a project. It felt pretty good. Tired but good. Exhausted but good. (To be honest, I never want to see an apple again for a while.)

Speaking of never-completed projects, I dabbled back into one of my discarded pastimes of cross-stitching this week. When searching for a project I started last year and didn’t finish for my hubby, I stumbled across a few more I started and never finished. Sorry Scarlett, I know that baby gift for you was due a good three and a half years ago before you were born. Don’t hold your breath, kiddo, it is back in the abyss of projects along with a few baby quilts that still need finishing.

Given I couldn’t find what I wanted to finish, I’ve started a new project once again, and a much smaller one — unlike Scarlett’s 36 page pattern wall hanging I was so sure I could knock out a month and a half before the baby shower…

The inspiration for this new pattern came from my co-worker, Julie. Julie started a sit and stitch group this week at the Center for Active Living. Femme Wonder and I headed up from Ocheyedan following the apple butter canning to see what it was all about. We had cross-stitchers, crocheters, knitters, embroiderers and more in the mix. Roughly a dozen of us gathered for three hours to relax and enjoy good conversation while pursuing our creative passions. It was nice to know I wasn’t the only crafty procrastinator in the bunch, too, as another admitted her project was one several years in the making.

While it may seem boring to others, it was nice to get back to something simpler. Activities without the Internet. Activities with good friends and new friends that allowed me to take a moment to step away from the hustle and bustle and just breathe.

Often I think we forget to take a moment for ourselves. We get caught up in what we have to do and what we want to do or need to do, and somehow the time for ourselves goes by the wayside. Now that jewelry season is over until next spring, I hope to find more of these opportunities.

An Ode to Femme Wonder

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   Time to hit the road again today and I can’t wait. Beccie a.k.a. Femme Wonder and I will pack up the car and head to Iowa City once more to peddle our wares, this time at the Iowa Women’s Music Festival on Saturday. I am so ready to see our Iowa City friends again. This time we get to stay a few days instead of our usual down and back. We have a baby shower to make up for and finally get to spend some quality time with two of our other friends as they house us for the tenure of our trip. I secretly or not so secretly wish I had a TARDIS so we could visit more often without a four-hour car trip. But, the drive down and back is something I truly look forward to.

   I think if you can survive an extended car ride with someone without wanting to strangle them, you’ve accomplished a pretty decent feat. (Maybe my standards are low, who knows.) When Bec and I hit the road, it is usually a laugh a minute for the majority of the trek spiced with wailing along to the radio and the occasional critique of our fellow drivers.

   It is a rarity, at least in my experience, to find a fellow kindred spirit who will go along with whatever insane idea you’ve managed to concoct. Our favorite Iowa City story is the day we decided we wanted to meet some friends for dinner.

   A few exchanges between Beccie and I of “Are we crazy enough to do this?” turned into an impromptu road trip at 2:30 in the afternoon to attend a rally, eat dinner, turn around and come home. I fortunately had a boss who let me come in late that next day after hearing we’d be getting home around 2 a.m. (Jan you rock!)  So yes, an eight hour round-trip to eat pizza and visit our friends. Totally worth it.

   These days as life seems to keep getting in the way, it is the longest stretch of quality time we seem to get. So I relish these moments talking about some of the most insane topics while pleading with her not to post our foolishness on Facebook between tears where I’ve laughed so hard.  Getting away from the day to day and on the road does both of our souls some good.

   I think these little moments are not valued enough. Our 15-year friendship has endured many slings and arrows and long periods of little to no contact so now that I have her back in my life, I am grateful. I like to think we both appreciate each other and are more like sisters than friends.

   Here lately I’ve been so busy and tired when I get home I feel like a slacker in the friend department let alone the business side of things. I need to prioritize better or figure out how to clone myself. I am not sure I am good at either to tell you the truth but I’ve got to start somewhere.

   So until I master the art of time travel and cloning, I’ll keep looking forward to our little adventures and the crazy shenanigans we get into. And see Bec-ala,  I love you enough to dedicate my entire blog to you which I think means I love you slightly more than my luggage.

I’m not ready for this, are you?

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Writer’s note: I received a letter last week about my previous blog in the paper. I wanted to take a moment to thank the writer, who preferred not to have her letter in the paper. I appreciated your feedback very much and I thank you for reading my blog.

Well, I woke up this morning and it was a wee bit chilly. Fidget, my cantankerous diluted calico carried on a verbal exchange with my puggle Sammy until Mommy finally went upstairs and closed the window for the princess of the house.

This seems pretty mundane and the idea this interlude would inspire an entire blog is a bit odd, but follow my logic down the proverbial rabbit hole. This little cold snap we are all experiencing made me start thinking ahead and of that dreaded four-lettered “s” word I’ve come to both love and dread living in Iowa–snow.

The “s word” has come up in my household quite a bit in the past few days as we’ve been trying to make plans for holiday travel to visit my family back home in Kentucky or have them come out here. November seems safer than December as far as avoiding snow, but nothing’s set in stone.

As I went to the Farmer’s Almanac website my fears were confirmed. To quote Wade Barrett, “I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news…”

Folks, we are in for a cold and snowy winter. The almanac’s forecast is grim saying, “The winter of 2014-15 will see below-normal temperatures for about three-quarters of the nation.”

Great. “No region will see prolonged spells of above-normal temperatures; only near the West and East coasts will temperatures average close to normal.” Groovy.

“Near-normal preceipitation is expected for the Pacific Northwest, the Southwest States and Northern Plains, while below-normal precipitation values are forecast for the…Upper Midwest and the Great Lakes.The Central and Southern Plains are expected to receive above-average precipitation.” We’re considered “North Central Plains” what does that mean???

Ironically, this month is National Preparedness Month and this dismal forecast has made me realize I am not as prepared as I’d like to be for this winter.  So what do you do? Well, for me, after I stuck my tongue out at the entire forecast in disgust, I started making a mental list of things I need to gather up before winter officially hits.

FEMA’s website www.ready.gov offers great information on how to prepare for a number of weather-related disasters ranging from winter storms to tornadoes. They also recommend a basic disaster supplies kit with the following:

Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation.

Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food.

Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both.

Flashlight and extra batteries

First aid kit

Whistle to signal for help

Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place

Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation

Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities

Manual can opener for food

Local maps

Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

Well, looks like I have some preparing to do and I am sure I am not alone. Hopefully we can all benefit from this and look beyond just stocking up on the bread and milk.