Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Vegas Wildlife

So, you all know we live in Vegas. What you may not know is that there are three lakes in our neighborhood that attract all kinds of wildlife. I have taken some pictures to demonstrate:

**We have two gorgeous black swans with bright red beaks...which I saw last week...once...and didn't have my camera. So visualize with me...no photos, sorry. I'm still hopeful I will see them again.**


We have one other swan-y looking guy. He's not as pretty as the black swans, but ya know.








These are your basic wood ducks. I love the iridescent green look of the male's head. The poor little mousy female is swimming behind him, but she sure has a lot of these gorgeous guys fighting over her!








There are about a gazillion of these guys. They fight a lot (or that's what I'm calling it in this family blog anyway), which is interesting to watch. They have very white beaks.






And we have a ton of pigeons. Not so beautiful, nor rare, but there are so many of them, I thought it worth a mention (and a picture).








Then there is this guy. He is the weirdest looking duck I've ever seen. He's got kind of a turkey-head thing going on, and we've named him Chuck. He has a wife (who has a little of the turkey-redness but is much better looking) named Mrs. Chuck, and this summer, they raised a family with two little Chucklets. Not very original, I am aware, but it provided much entertainment for us this summer.





Sometimes, we get a flock of Canadian geese who will spend a little time on our lake, but they don't stick around long. I will keep an eye out for the black swans - they are so beautiful, I'll probably have to blog about them again.
And last, but not least, Chuck gave me a little dance this afternoon when I was taking his picture. I captured it on film, and thought you would all enjoy it. Listen for his little "hissing" in between the sound of the passing cars and the sound of the ducks quacking. It was hilarious and I was thrilled!


video

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Day 9

Ok, so I'm done. I just cannot choke down the lemonade anymore. I have to give this experience an A+, though. I made it through 8 days, and I feel better than I've felt in a long time! I am down 11 pounds, and I have more energy than I've had in a long time. My ONLY complaint about this cleanse is the boring-ness of it. I tell you, I may never drink lemonade again... although, I'd like to make this cleanse an annual event, so I may end up drinking gallons of it again someday...

Hope you're not disappointed in me! I sure gave it my all - and I'm really glad I did! Now, what in the world will I talk about tomorrow? Who knows, but I'm going to talk about it with a cup of hot tea in my hand...I've sure missed it!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Cleanse...days 7 & 8

Hey, hate to "Reader's Digest" ya, but I worked all weekend at the early voting polls, and was just too exhausted to blog! Who knew...

Let's see. There's not that much to say, honestly. I'm still on the cleanse, my tongue is getting pinker, so I feel like I'm on the downhill slope. THANK GOODNESS, because I HATE HATE HATE that dad-gummed lemonade. Honestly, I am hungry these days because I just can't stomach 2 quarts of the stuff anymore. I know, if I would drink it, I'd be less hungry, but it's hard. So, I'm really on mostly water. I figure it's kinda cheating, but it's not like I traded the lemonade in for chocolate milk!

So, I would still recommend it, but say that it's hardest at the end. Not harder to resist the food, just harder to keep drinking the lemonade. I really feel healthy, energetic and strong, I have lost more than 10 pounds, and with 2 days to go, am hoping for another 2 or so. I'm looking forward to eating again, but mostly out of boredom. I have to say this has been a really good experience for me, and after I have forgotten how MUCH I HATE THE LEMONADE, I'll probably do it again someday.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Cleanse...Day 6

Ok, so it's not quite Day 6 yet, but tomorrow, I am working as a poll watcher from 8am(yawn) until 6pm then going to Chase's school to help tear down the carnival that is happening all day tomorrow. I'm going to be exhausted and probably won't feel like blogging. So, I thought I'd get a jump on it!

Tongue: still white and furry
Tummy: kinda growling when divine hubby and Chase ate Subway for dinner
Willpower: still 100%
Weight: nearly 8 pounds (!)
Lemonade: officially hate it

The driving force now is that I've put in over 5 days on this thing, and I'm not quitting now! Again, I'm honestly not doing this for the weight loss, and I don't recommend it for that purpose - I'm sure the weight will come back when I'm back on solid foods! It is nice to have my jeans a little looser, though...and I enjoy getting on the scale every day too!

The lemonade has lost its appeal to me. I can still drink it (and am currently doing so), but I don't really want to. I'm chewing a lot of gum (no, I'm not really supposed to, but ya gotta do something...lemonade breath is awful!!) and drinking lots of water.

Wish me luck - I'm off to the polls tomorrow to make sure democracy is safe from those who seek to pervert the process! (Hand over heart, singing the Star Spangled Banner with a tear in one eye...sniff)

Cleanse...Day 5

I have been surprised by several aspects of this cleanse. Last night, I found a new surprise. I was watching my favorite TV show (CSI) and every single commercial was for food. Applebees, Olive Garden, Pizza Hut (mmmmm), you name it, they bought ad time on CSI last night. I was REALLY craving all of it. Honestly, I had almost decided to forget the whole thing and eat.

When the show was over, I got up and realized I really had to go to the bathroom. After I (ahem) went and was washing my hands, I looked in the mirror and realized that I didn't want to eat anymore. The craving was gone. I had read that if you have a craving, it will be gone as soon as you (ahem) get rid of the toxins that are causing the craving. Last night, that was proven to me.

Yesterday was the hardest day so far on this cleanse. Maybe it's because I didn't have a lot going on, and got bored? I really thought about and craved food a lot more yesterday than the previous days. Today there is a little more going on - Chase has a half day, so I'll pick him up around noon, then he has karate at 4. I'm hoping today will be easier. It's hard to imagine I can keep this up for another 5 days if I'm going to have cravings like yesterday. Luckily, Saturday and Sunday I am working as a poll watcher all day, so it will be easier to not eat at least those days. And it's the weekend, which means the early voting polls will be crowded, which makes time go faster.

So, status report:

1. Got hungry yesterday
2. Realized that hunger will go away after certain (ahem) events
3. Tongue is still white and furry
4. Day 5 is underway!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cleanse...Day 4

Yesterday, I had an incredible burst of energy that lasted all day! I took a 5 mile bike ride, took Rusty for a walk around the block, then came home and cleaned for 4 hours. Cleaned like, moved the couch and vacuumed behind it, kind of cleaned. Took the light bulbs out of the fixtures and cleaned the fixtures, kind of cleaned. Using the bleach pen to get the red wine out of the grout, kind of cleaned. I didn't get around to cleaning the soap scum off of the glass shower walls, but maybe today...

We went to church last night, and in our class, someone brought CAKE. Two kinds of CAKE. Now, if you know me, I love all things carb-y and sugar-y, and CAKE is high high high on that list. OOOHHH, CCCCAAAAKKKKEEE. :) But, I digress...

I didn't eat it.

Oh, I wanted to!

But, I didn't.

I don't have any willpower, especially when it comes to something like CCCAAAKKKEEE, so it of course did occur to me that "one bite couldn't hurt!" But, this cleanse is truly making me feel good. Even great, I might say. And I know that no matter how much my mouth loves CAKE, my tummy does not. And I don't want to feel yucky anymore now that I remember how great great feels. I'm sure I will eat CAKE again in the future, but I've invested nearly 96 hours into this thing, and I'd sure like to see it all the way through.

So, my tongue is still white and furry, the salt water went down even easier this morning, and I'm well into my first serving of cayenne lemonade.

Now, I have to take my car into the shop AGAIN (I think my mechanic is secretly sabotaging it to continue my business...) so it should be easy not to eat while I'm sitting in his dirty garage reading my book. Of course, today will be the day he gets Krispy Kreme or something...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tag, you're it!

I got tagged in a friend's blog, so I'm it. Here are 7 random things about me:

1. Open drawers and cabinet doors drive me nuts. I'll close them ANYWHERE I am.

2. I love to touch the etchings/stickers on glass doors, windows, etc.

3. I can't stand it when the toilet paper is on the roll backwards. I will change it if at all possible.

4. I love to lean on divine hubby's shoulder first thing in the morning while he's shaving. Weird, I know...

5. I cannot stop reading a book I have started unless it is truly offensive or absolutely boring, and even if those two conditions are present, I will still read until I just can't stand it anymore. I think I put two books down in the past five years since I've been keeping track of the books I read. Divine hubby thinks it's nuts to keep reading books I hate...but I do.

6. I used to be a mystery shopper.

7. Watching people brush their teeth gives me the heebie-jeebies. I HATE toothpaste commercials. Makes my skin crawl.

Oh, and I did write a blog about my cleanse...keep reading!

Day 3

So, are you sick of reading about this whole thing yet? I may not be able to post every day just about the cleanse...from what I've been reading, there won't be much different to say after the first couple of days.

I've gotten used to the cayenne, which means I can add more. According to the book, as the toxins leave your body, you are more able to tolerate the less tasteful aspects of the cleanse. Initially, I thought that was probably bunk, but I have to admit that certain aspects of the cleanse have gotten inexplicably easier. One of the distasteful parts of it is that you have to quickly drink a quart of lukewarm water mixed with 2 tsp of sea salt every morning. Yesterday, it was all I could do to get half of that down. Today, I approached the quart glass with trepidation, but honestly, found it much easier to tolerate. I drank the whole thing, and it really wasn't bad. I am amazed at the difference a day makes. I also am actually enjoying the cayenne. I put much more in today than yesterday, and no problems.

I have fasted several times before, and found it sheer torture to be around people who were eating. I could not stop thinking of food and planning when I would be able to eat again. It is a great way to get closer to God - you pray whenever you are hungry...which for me was nearly constantly. I know I am not exactly fasting since I can drink the lemonade, but considering I've had absolutely no food other than the lemonade (and the salt water) in over 48 hours, I'm truly surprised that I'm honestly not hungry. I'd still rather you didn't eat a Beau Jo's pizza in front of me right now, but I was able to sit with divine hubby and Chase while they ate dinner last night with no problems. Frankly, I'm amazed.

The other thing I have noticed when fasting in the past is that I felt physically weak at the end of it. Again, I am getting a fair amount of sugar from the maple syrup, I realize, but still! I can honestly say I feel great. I'm planning to go for a bike ride this morning - I have that much energy! One odd side effect is that my tongue has turned white and furry...but the book says that will go away when my body is free of toxins. I'll keep you up on that progress. (I know you won't be able to sleep wondering how my tongue is doing - well, tune in tomorrow, sports fans!!)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cleanse...Day 2

I survived day 1 with really very little problem. My biggest problem was that I put too much cayenne pepper in the lemonade and then took it with me to my substitute teacher training for 7 hours. It was GROSS and I couldn't stomach more than a couple of sips. That left me with no sustenance until 3pm. I decided water was better than, oh, say, Taco Bell, so I got a giant bottle of Spring water and drank that all day.

But, once I adjusted the cayenne pepper, the lemonade is actually very good. I was kinda peckish last night, but I examined my motivation, and honestly, it wasn't hunger. It was just...it's night time, I'm playing on the computer and/or reading my book. Need something to eat. But, really, I didn't. I awoke around 1am and had my first "cleansing" experience. It was impressive and kind of alarming. I'll not discuss these things in too much detail for fear of alienating my audience...

This morning, I feel good. I'm supposed to drink a quart of salt water. It's kinda hard to get down. A quart is a LOT of salt water and salt water is pretty yucky. But, I want to get the maximum benefit from this cleanse, so glug glug. I'm also going to the bookstore today to get a copy of the book this cleanse is based on. It's called Lose Weight, Have More Energy and be Happier in 10 Days and it's by Peter Glickman. Kind of a cheesy title, I know. I'm not doing it because of the weight loss. I'm not so naive as to think it won't come right back when I'm eating real food again. It's more that I'm feeling very bloated, fatigued and downright yucky. And everything I have read says that cleansing really helps with all of that. And if it can jump-start a little weight loss as well, then I'm in, baby!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fall cleaning

I've been reading a lot about the "lemonade diet" that isn't actually a diet at all, but a cleanse. I'm a little afraid to try it, but I've read a lot about it and it seems like a positive step for someone who is feeling *fat* and honestly, kinda bloated. Ok, so the chips and chocolate add to that bloating, but I've been reading so much about the fact that our bodies are chock full of (ahem) fecal matter and that is one reason for weight gain and lethargy. I have about a week before I can hopefully start working, so it seems like the perfect time to start something like this.

I'm one of those people who need a kick-start when I'm trying to lose weight, and this seems like a good, healthy way to do that. Anybody out there have any experience with this particular program? I know my friend Laura in Denver has done it - anybody else?

I'll keep you updated on my progress - might make for an interesting daily post, don'tcha think? I know you're all dying to read about the state of my insides...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Racism

Ooh, that's a provocative title, huh? :)

I had a discussion with a dear friend the other day that was very upsetting to me. It was suggested to me that anyone not voting for Barack Obama is racist. Now, you all know that in this venue, I strive to be non-partisan, and I have absolutely NO interest in having political debates on my blog (or in my life, honestly). But, regardless of whom I am voting for, I have trouble with this particular stance.

First of all, I believe it is dismissive of Obama's many achievements and accomplishments to say this. Whether or not you are voting for him, he is an amazing man. Regardless of his race, he rose from very humble beginnings, attended Columbia and Harvard, was elected to several local offices, is now a US Senator, and one of TWO people who will become President of the US. Not exactly your average guy, regardless of race, color, gender, etc. And he didn't get where he is by playing the race card, either.

Secondly, I believe it is inherently racist to vote for ANYONE simply because of his or her race. That being said, it is also racist NOT to vote for anyone simply because of his or her race. Racism is NOT limited to people of color. It is racist to vote or not vote for anyone if their skin color (even if that skin is white) is the only reason you are doing so.

Thirdly, I believe Barack Obama would be sickened if he heard my friend say everyone who doesn't vote for him is racist. I do not believe he wants votes simply because he is black. He just doesn't strike me as an entitlement kind of dude. I will bet you a gazillion dollars that if Barack Obama does NOT win the Presidential election, he will NOT be the one to play the race card. Accusing Americans of electing John McCain instead of Barack Obama because Americans are racist is simply wrong. I am certain, if he is not elected, that the Al Sharptons and Jessie Jacksons of this world will certainly play that race card, and play it loudly, but I absolutely believe it will be wrong and I believe Barack Obama will be opposed to its being played on his behalf. It also demeans John McCain and the amazing things he has done with his life. If I vote for John McCain, it will be because he deserves it, not cause he looks like me.

Fourthly, I am not so naive to think that there is no one who will vote in a racist manner. I realize that there are people who dismiss Barack Obama simply due to his race. I hope and pray that those people are in the scary redneck minority and mostly will be too drunk to vote anyway.

So, there, I've gotten political. I am not sure if you can tell my political leanings from this posting. I hope not, but honestly, I don't think it matters. Whether I vote for Barack Obama or John McCain, I support both of their right to run for this high office. And while I cannot truthfully say I am 100% non-racist (not sure anyone can say that), I can 100% truthfully say that the person I am voting for is neither black nor white. He is an American. He is an amazing man. He has accomplished a lot. He has overcome a lot. He has policies I agree with. He is the better candidate, in my never-to-be-humble opinion. And I believe he will do his very best with this country he is entrusted with. If you are voting because of ANY color, I think you should reconsider and get the facts before November 4.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The perks of living in Vegas, baby

Remember my friend Shelly here in Vegas? The one I stalked? (Refer to earlier posts if you're lost - it's a good story!) Well, one of the first things she told me she liked about living in Las Vegas is that people come visit all the time. That has sure been true! We've only lived here 4 months, and have already had more people come visit us here than the nearly 2 years we lived in Denver!

Also, remember that I turned (ahem) 40 in September? Well, before we even left Denver, our wonderful friends the Camps and the Flythes made plans to come visit us for a weekend. And that weekend is finally here! We are very excited and have made all kinds of fun plans for the weekend.

I have waxed eloquently about the value of friends, so I won't bore you again with all of that, but suffice it to say that we have sure missed these dear friends of ours and are looking forward to seeing them on Friday. We just haven't made friends here in Vegas yet. We have some acquaintances that have the potential to become friends, but it takes time, and we haven't been here long enough yet. We've been kinda spoiled because in Austin, of course we had millions of friends. Green Bay, we quickly met our neighbors the Wagners and the Gudgeons and had instant friends. Denver, we had family, a very kid-friendly neighborhood and wonderful fellow soccer moms, so our friendships were made quickly. Those friendships have not materialized here quite so easily.

So, I'm anxiously awaiting our friends' arrival this weekend!! One of them is even bringing their son who is Chase's age, so we'll all have guests to hang out with!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Leaks

First, let me say that I am done with voter registration! Whew. The pay was good, but Saturday it was hard to hang out at the grocery store for ANOTHER 8 hours! So, I'm done. I did my civic duty, if my candidate doesn't win, well, it's not my fault, and I earned the STQ family a little cold hard cash, which I haven't done in 5 months! Felt good. I am waiting to see if they are going to hire me to work early voting, but I doubt it since with Chase's school schedule and activities, I can't work all day. I'll keep ya posted.

So, you know we have a nice house with a great kitchen here in Vegas, right? Pool, hot tub, the whole 9-yards. We have had a series of problems with this house that has required professional assistance.

1. Both A/C's went out and one of them had to be replaced
2. Pool pump died and had to be replaced
3. Weird electrical problem that was investigated several times and magically fixed itself.

Now we have leaks. The bathroom faucet leaks, it leaks under the same sink also. The cold water shower handle has gotten stripped or something and is almost impossible to turn on or off. The kitchen sink is leaking under the cabinet. The toilet in the master bath runs all the time and the water softener leaked a river in the garage. (sigh)

I love that we don't have to pay for these repairs, but I HATE waiting for these people to get off their tushies and come fix things! Our landlords live in Chile. No, that's not a suburb of Vegas. It's in South America. So, we have a property management company. When something breaks, we have to call them, then they call the landlords (who live several time zones away) to get approval. Then the property mgmt company calls the insurance company for approval, then they have to get someone out here. We may drown before anyone gets here. As a matter of fact, the water softener issue has been going on for over a month, and it's still not fixed.

So, I sent a (how shall we say) pointed email to the management company explaining the problems, how long they have been going on and that we need them to be fixed. This week. And if they are not fixed within a couple of days, we are going to call our own plumber to fix the problems and take it off the rent. They aren't going to like that idea, so I hope they'll get off their keesters and fix our stupid leaks! :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

If you think the grocery store was weird, try hanging out in front of a gas station for 5 hours!!!

Yesterday, I did voter registration in front of a gas station called Grumpy's! Thankfully, the store is run by women who do not fit that name...they were nice and really funny. Every 30 minutes on the nose, at least one of them would come out and have a cigarette or three. So, after a couple of days at this location, I'll have to have myself screened for lung cancer (cough, wheeze)!

Here's the breakdown:

133 people had already registered
22 people aren't registered and aren't going to
only 10 people ignored me completely
8 good Americans registered by me
5 felons :)
4 were not residents (one was from Sweden!!)
1 asked me if I was registered (smart aleck!)
1 was a drag queen

The drag queen was hilarious - he/she got out of a tiny little compact car, and how he/she ever got into it, I'll never know. He/she was about 6'3", had a 5-o'clock shadow, an adam's apple so big it nearly knocked me down when he/she walked by, full makeup, dress and heels. When I asked if he/she was registered to vote, he/she answered me in a great Barry White voice. Cracked me up! I don't think I'm in Kansas anymore, Toto...

Of the felons (quickly becoming my favorite demographic), one guy rode his bike up and told me he hadn't driven a car in 25 years. I asked him how many miles he has on his bike, and he said he'd only had this bike for a few years, so only 30,000. THIRTY THOUSAND??? Wow. We talked for awhile. He was a hoot! He didn't tell me what his felony was (how do you ask that question, anyway??), but I hope it wasn't murdering blonde women who stand outside of gas stations...gulp

Then there was the guy who told me I should definitely vote for Obama. When I asked why, he said "wouldn't you love to have a black president?" I asked if that was the only reason he was voting for Obama. The guy said "yep - I figure a black president will help the rest of us black folks out. But I know you white folks aren't gonna vote in a black man for president." I quickly informed him that my choice for president is not at all determined by the person's skin color, whereas he told me he didn't know what Obama stands for, nor does he care. He just wants a black man for president. He asked me if I thought that was racist. Then he asked me if I thought Obama would be assassinated while in office. I said I sure hoped no one would be assassinated. He said he didn't think anyone would assassinate a white president. I reminded him of Lincoln...JFK...not to mention Garfield (somebody must have wanted his lasagna). Anyway, he was kinda funny, and the conversation was definitely interesting.

Then a guy pulled up in a fairly new Jeep Cherokee, said hi to me, rummaged through the trash for three aluminum cans, then drove off.

A lady in a Suburban ran out of gas in the middle of three busy lanes of traffic, ran across the street to Grumpy's, bought a gas can, gas and then stood in the MIDDLE LANE without being killed to fill her car up. She didn't bring any children in, and I was sure hoping that meant she didn't have any in the car...

Did you know people still use pay phones? 4 people stopped at this gas station to use the pay phone. One of them was a guy in a beat up old minivan who must have talked for 30 minutes to someone about some woman who stood him up for a date and now wasn't returning his phone calls. Funny, you don't hear a lot of men yelling and complaining about that kind of stuff - he was worrying it to DEATH like I would do! I really wanted to tell him the truth. "Dude, she's just not that into you." But, he was so mad, I figured he would take my head off. So, I kept my opinion to myself.

I counted 22 cans of Red Bull bought, 10 cans of Monster, countless cases of beer, something called heavy gravity ale, a million candy bars and 8 giant blue slushies. Can't wait to go back today!!! :)