Thursday, October 30, 2008

And now, another installment of...The Buddy Chronicles

I hope you used your best radio announcer's voice for that title. If you didn't, go back and read it again.

Thanks. Now your mood is set.

Yesterday, Zac didn't have after-school practice, so he road the bus home. He had a science project due for today that we immediately started working on. He had to make a 3D model of a plant or animal cell. We chose plant cell; mostly because we had an available shoe box to start the project.

So we're gathering up all of the supplies--tape, wrapping paper, play-doh, modeling clay--and I walked through the kitchen and glanced up at the clock on the microwave: 3:35. Like a woman possessed, I screamed, "Oh my gosh!!!!!! I have to go get Jake!!!" And I dashed out of the house.

Buddy, not missing his opportunity at an escape while I was in a crazed state, dashed out of the house. My last words to Zac were, "Don't worry about going after him, he'll be back."

I flew to the school, speeding the ENTIRE way, so as to avoid another incident with being late like before. Yes, I would rather pay an $80 speeding ticket than give the Principal the satisfaction of me being late. Twisted, I know, but that's how I roll.

At any rate, I was NOT the last person in line. In fact, there were at least 15 more cars behind me when I got to the front. AND there were WWWAAAYYY more than 15 kids still waiting. I digress.

We made it home and Buddy was back. Not only was he back, but he brought home a friend. A cute little dog that looked exactly like Buddy, but with black and brown hair and a long, curly tail. This dog was also wearing a fur-lined hoodie that said "Fly Dog" on the back. He was dressed to go visiting. Of course, he was not wearing a collar. (Why, oh why, don't people put a collar on their animals?)

I was about to get frantic at this point because Zac had this project to do, Jake had homework, and we had this dog to figure out now. On top of all of this, since Zac's in a bit of trouble with the phone situation, I couldn't just send him out walking with this new dog to find his people. I did what I usually do; I called Tech Support. That's what I call George when I'm frantic, computer-wise, or other-wise.

While I was on the phone with Tech Support, Buddy and his friend are running around the living room playing, the kids are chasing them and hollering, and I was trying to get some advise from "Kevin" (my tech guy from India). I went over to the dogs--Buddy was trying to get frisky with the new dog (he's so friendly), broke up the love, and the new dog hunched his back over and hunkered down to poop!

I started screaming, "No, no, no!" over and over. I picked up the dog and carried him, still hunched over, to the back door and put him out. George is laughing at the pandemonium, the kids are in hysterics and I'm cleaning up poop from the floor. Luckily, it wasn't messy.

I went back outside, but the dog was gone. I guess he made it home...

I guess that's the lesson with bringing home a friend. Make sure they're house-trained, or I'll put them out.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

One of the reasons I think the south (TEXAS) is GREAT

This weekend we took a whirlwind trip to Marble Falls, TX. My aunt had a retirement party for my mom and my other aunt. *Most* of the family made it. Actually, the usual suspects: Grandma, Grandpa, uncle, aunt, uncle, aunt, uncle, aunt, cousin, cousin's wife, cousin's boy, and US. My brother and his wife couldn't come because he's preoccupied with his newborn (and isn't ready to travel) and my sister and her family couldn't come because of a prior commitment.

We left about 1:00 on Friday and drove to Houston, where I had bought, on-line, tickets to High School Musical 3. MONTHS ago, we promised the boys we'd see the movie on opening night. At least that's what I keep telling myself. That Zac Efron is such a cutie, I don't need much of an excuse to watch him. The movie was great. Clean, sweet, and fun. It tied up all of the loose ends just exactly the way you'd want it. We headed on to MF and arrived around 1:00am, after a short detour to Fredricksburg (thanks, MapQuest).

I'll let the photos do the 'splainin' for why the south is great. Remember, this party was October 25th.

The Retirees

And finally, my sweet Grandma and Grandpa

My sister's going to kill me...

But this tattling is germane to what I'm about to tell you.

When my sister was about 7 or 8 years old, New Kids on the Block were at the pinnacle of their popularity. Marketing was rampant, pop-radio airplay was nauseating, and fan-love was rabid.

One of the marketing ploys they used was particularly insidious. During children's television programming, they advertised a 900 number that you could call and talk to your favorite NKOTB boy. Of course, a 7-year-old girl doesn't know about the $2.95 connection fee and the 99c/minute fee thereafter.

I think you can see where this is going...When my mom got the phone bill, it was about $800. It may have been more, or less, but you get the point. For a person whose phone bill has always hovered around $50, I can imagine the reaction.

I just lived it.

Skip forward 20 years to cell phones.

Zac has had a cell phone for about 3 years now. The first 2 years he had a Firefly phone. It only allowed the user to make and receive calls from those numbers the parents programmed into the phone. After he proved responsibility with the firefly for 2 years, Santa brought him a regular cell phone last year for Christmas.

He's been doing very well with it. He hasn't lost it, broken it, or gone crazy with minutes. Every now-and-then he'll have a $1-$2 charge for a ring-tone or accidentally activating the mobile internet.

Yesterday, Jake brought in the mail. Among the political fliers, insurance company EOB, and offers for $100,000 home-equity lines of credit was the cell phone bill. My bill usually runs between $175 and $200, depending on the number of times we call information for a number or accidental internet activations.


I couldn't catch my breath for possibly a full 10 minutes. Zac immediately blamed a friend of his for watching YouTube videos on his phone. Upon further examination, the truth was finally told. Zac was the one watching YouTube videos on his phone.

We had the usual words about how much $1000 is: almost an entire house payment, groceries for the month, a trip to Roswell, Thanksgiving break. There was weeping and gnashing of teeth. He brought me his savings and forgave the $100 I owed him to help pay the bill.

Thinking about this after a night's sleep, (and with the perspective of knowing that George called Cingular and retroactively placed a media package on Zac's phone so all of the charges fall under the new plan) I think it's kind of sweet and funny.

He's been a different kid this morning. I woke him up and he dressed immediately, ate breakfast, brushed his teeth and took care of the dog without any prodding. I'm not so sure I want to tell him we fixed it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Another Day

Slipping into stockings,
Stepping into shoes,
Dipping in the pocket of her raincoat.
Ah, it's just another day.

That's one of my most favorite songs ever.

It was cold and rainy today which always brings that song to mind. Perfect house-work weather. When I got finished helping out at Jacob's school, I ran a couple of errands then went home. I got a lot of laundry folded while I watched TV.

I was catching up on shows I'd recorded on the DVR and saw one recorded on October 13 which is one of my most favorite people ever's birthday. And it occurred to me that I did not call him (unless it was that day I called him in a panic over the stock market falling, and he had to talk me down, which was purely a coincidence).

Anyway, for his birthday to come and go without any fanfare of which I know, only speaks to his true, sweet humility. (As opposed to the sky-writing service I'd like to hire for my birthday announcement.) He is the most generous person I know, in all ways and is an absolute inspiration to me.

So, in lieu of a card or a phone call, Bruce gets a tribute on my blog for all the world to read. Or at least the 4 of you I know are reading...and you know who you are.

Happy Belated Birthday, Bruce.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

OMG, Am I this old?

Zac informed me today that this Friday is the one-year anniversary of him "going out" with his girlfriend Katie. He wants to do something special for her...

Yikes. He's had a GIRLFRIEND for 1 year!!!!!

We're leaving to go out of town Friday afternoon, so aside from him taking a box of chocolates to his beloved, there's nothing more he can do.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

X Country

No, I'm not getting ready to tell you about some hot, new alt/country band. Yesterday,we went to Walker for a cross country meet. Zac's been running with the middle school cc team last year and this year.

It was a great meet. All of the kids got to run in the Jr. High race. Usually, only the kids with the best times get to run in the JH race so that the best times will count (the top 7 in your team) and the others run with the Jr. Varsity High School race. Zac's first race this season was with the JV runners, but his times have been really good so he's been running with the JH kids. One race, he even finished 7th.

Saturday's time was 14:30 or :28 or something like that. He did a great job. I think he came in 8th on his team.

Really, though, once you laid your head down on the pillow Saturday night, had you run 2 miles? I know I didn't.

Can you find Zac in this picture?

Coming in for the finish.

Finished. And he didn't even run!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Smarty pants

The boys got their report cards this week.

Jake had all As and Zac had all As and 1 B. Even the B was almost an A.

We're very proud of our hard-working boys.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Weekend

Hang on, Internet. It was a long weekend.

Saturday morning, Zac had a cross-country meet in South Baton Rouge. He ran at 9:30, but we had to be there between 8 and 8:30 to check in and get warmed up. This meet and the last, he got to run in the jr. high race where the times count for your team. They only take the top 7 times. Last week Zac was number 7, but this week I think he came in 8th or 9th on his team. He had a good race, though, and his time was 15:40 for 2 miles. The way I figure, even if his time was 30 minutes, at the end of the day, he's run 2 miles. What the heck did you or I do? I'll try to get some pictures up of the next meet.

We boogied back home so I could get ready to go *back* downtown for WHEEL!!

I got there around 1:00. The auditions were held in the Belle of Baton Rouge Casino Atrium.

The way it worked was that there were 3-one hour games at 2:00, 3:30 and 5:00. Each game time had a different colored application form: yellow, blue and orange, respectively. The form had just basic info like name, address, phone, e-mail and hobbies and interests. They collected all of those quarter-sheet forms and poured them in a spinner drum thing.

The traveling host's name is Marty Lublin and the traveling Vanna's name is Heidi Jackson. They pick 5 names at a time from the drum and call those folks up to play the speed-up round. If you're not familiar with the speed-up round, it's at the end of the game when time is running short and Pat gives the wheel a final spin and each contestant gets to give a letter then has 3 seconds to solve the puzzle.

Once you're chosen to go up on stage, you meet Marty and tell him a bit about yourself. He encourages everyone to sing or dance, tell a joke or funny story so that your personality will shine. He says that the audition begins when your name is called from the audience. I couldn't believe the people who got on stage who didn't even act like they were excited to be there! I was getting annoyed by that, since there were perfectly wonderful people in the audience who were stupid excited to be there.

Speaking of audience. You would not believe the people who showed up for this deal. There was everyone from blue-toothed professionals to the retired set, students, beautiful people, and those not-so-beautiful people. People came from all over the state and Mississippi, even a person from North Carolina. (I think the NC person was visiting.)

Anyway, I didn't get chosen for the first game, and since I'd not eaten lunch yet (it was 3:00 already), I went to the restaurant and got a very delicious turkey club to take back to turn in an application for the 3:30 show.

By this time people were getting a little loosened up and a few more people were showing off their special singing and dancing talents. One guy was a nice singer and another lady showed off her ballroom dancing skills with Marty.

So, I didn't get chosen for the second game, so I went to the bar and watched some of the USC game and had a beer. I really wanted a diet Coke, but the hotel didn't sell Coke products. I thought it was some sort of charter for southern cities to only offer Coke products. I had to settle for a Coors Light.

I dropped in my orange application for the 5:00 show. Alas, I was not called and went home. When I got home, George and the boys had cleaned up the living room and made dinner. Fajitas. We settled in to watch the LSU game at 7:00. I couldn't keep my eyes open. Surprisingly, standing around all day in anticipation is exhausting. I went to bed around 8:30.

Sunday morning was the usual getting ready for church.
"Mom! Where's my belt!"
"I can't find my shoes!"
"Can I wear my Heelys?"
"What? My choir is singing today? I'm not going to church. I hate church. I don't want to sing. I'm just going to stand there and move my mouth."

Never fear. Everyone was dressed, in belts, and regular shoes. Jacob even sang with the choir and I could tell he was really singing.

We ate lunch at church. On the 2nd Sunday, we have a lunch for $6 where all of the proceeds go to missions. The meal that day was fried catfish. It was pretty good.

I brought a change of clothes and George and the boys dropped me back off at the Belle for Sunday's auditions.

The Weekend...Part Deux

After the boys dropped me off, I noticed there were far fewer people that day. I thought my chances were better. I filled out my application and sat to wait in the audience area.

**Some of the following events may not be in the order in which they are presented. The only thing I can completely remember is the beginning and the end. They are completely accurate.**

After a few minutes, a lady came and sat with me. She was there by herself too. Her name was Sherrie. She's the director of the Ascension Parish Chamber of Commerce in Gonzales. She was really friendly and up for a great time!

--Side Bar--
I met a friend on Saturday, too. Her name was Carla. That will be significant shortly.
--Close Side Bar--

We watched the show, hopeful. Again, I wasn't chosen. Sherrie wasn't sure she was going to stay, but I twisted her arm to go ahead and stay(it wasn't very hard to convince her). What else were we going to do on Sunday? House work? Nap? Laundry? Bah! That will always be there, but this was the last day for the Wheel.

We went to the bar and had a beer together and watched the Houston Texans game, then went back to put in our applications for the 2nd game at 3:30.

They called up more people who, obviously, didn't want to be there. I was beginning to wonder why they even came. There are perfectly wonderful people in the audience who want more than anything to play!!! Lo, and behold, my new friend Carla was called.

Earlier in the afternoon, I ran into Carla and introduced her to Sherrie. They began comparing notes and realized they had a bunch of the same friends, so they became fast friends. When Carla got up to talk to Marty, Sherrie and I were waving and cheering like crazy people. She was sufficiently cheerful and friendly and I think has a good chance for a call-back.

Five more names. Five more not mine. But then my friend Sherrie was called! I couldn't believe it. People all around me were getting called and even 2 people I had met that weekend were called.

When Sherrie got up to talk to Marty, I got on a chair and waved like a crazy person and took pictures of Sherrie. Marty AND Heidi noticed me waving and waved back. Sherrie gave me a shout-out. Sherrie was charming and wonderful. She got to talk about the far-flung, exotic locations her family were in at that particular moment. Sherrie was terrific and I know she'll get a call-back.

This next picture is of Sherrie waving to me, but I was waving back and so the pic is blurry! (Crazy excited!)

Five more names. Five more not mine.

We hung around for the third game. Sherrie decided to wait with me. She had a good feeling.

The last five names were called around 5:50. One, two, three, four, four, four, five, five, five, five (the repeat numbers indicate people who had left and they drew another name)........the crowd was going crazy now........Jana Ragsdale.

I screamed my head off!!!!!!!!!!! I was the LAST person called for the LAST game of the weekend. I ran up there and was hysterical. I was laughing and crying all at the same time. The staff there had to take my picture. I'm sure it was as good as my driver's licence. They directed me to sit in the waiting area, but realized I hadn't signed in. I stepped over to do that when another staff person had my application and asked my name. I literally could not speak. He looked at me and asked if I knew my name. I think he thought I might have ridden the short bus downtown that day. I just pointed to my name. He said that'll do. I sat down.

The game before mine finished up and my group went on stage. My friend, Sherrie, had my camera. When it was my turn to talk to Marty, I don't even remember how I got over to talk to him. I think I floated.

Marty: Hi. What's your name?
Me: Jana Ragsdale
Marty: And Jana, what do you do?
Me: (with attitude) Well, I am the storage diva for Zachary, Louisiana!
Marty: Storage Diva?
Me: Yea. I'm the manager of a self-storage facility in Zachary. Anybody from Zachary still in the house??!! (cheering erupts from the crowd. I don't think there were but a couple of people from Zachary, but it's fun to cheer on a crazy person)

Marty: Jana, what do you like to do when you're not the Storage Diva?
Me: Well, I have a husband and two boys, so I love watching little league baseball, going to friends' houses, and having friends over, hanging out in our back yard, swimming and cooking, and making new friends. I have to say hey to my new friends Carla and Sherrie who BOTH got to play today! And I just took up another hobby today.
Marty: Another hobby today? What's that? (baitingly)
Me: Dancing, of course!!

The crowd erupted, "Yeah" by Usher came on, and, yes, I danced on stage for the about 100 people remaining in the audience.

My puzzle was a before and after puzzle. We all got to give a letter. I said 'N'on my first try and 'M' (I think) on my second. The second lady in line solved the puzzle: SPELLING BEE STING.

We were dismissed and Marty thanked everyone for coming. Sherrie met me at the bottom of the steps.

I'm not sure if I'll get a call-back. When they review the tape, I'll probably be passed over as a little too much the crazy.

You know that, internet, you'll be one of the first to know.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


I am totally going to try out for this. The auditions are Saturday and Sunday, 2-6. Wheel of Fortune is my favorite game show!

I'll definitely be letting you know how it goes.

Monday, October 6, 2008

I forgot to tell you...

Internet, it was great to see Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann yesterday on ESPN. Keith being his non-political, sportsman, self and Dan being his funny straight-man self. I totally miss that.

Were it not for them, I don't think I'd enjoy ESPN, football, baseball, or even NASCAR half as much. NASCAR is only a tertiary enjoyment. I like the big fat nap I took yesterday. I don't think it had as much to do with NASCAR as it did with the fact that the kids are 12 and 6 and that I felt like I could sleep without fear that they would burn down the house or kill each other. At any rate, yesterday was a very good day.


I was reading this post and saw that the last sentence originally read "...yesterday was a very food day." I thought that was funny.

The Buddy Chronicles

I think I'll start a new heading for all of the Buddy adventures. He got out AGAIN this morning. I was taking Jake to school and realized that I'd forgotten my lunch at home. After I dropped Jake off, I headed back home to pick it up and Buddy got out when I tried to close the door behind me. He's going crazy without a yard. We've set the posts for the new fence in the back yard, but haven't gotten the rest built yet. George said that if he keeps on running off, we'd have to give him away to someone who has land where he can go crazy without the possibility of getting run over. I think we need to reserve judgement until we get the fence built. I don't know. He's a crazy dog with a very strong run instinct. I think this is a perfect example of nature winning out over nurture. Why would this nutso dog choose to run off and risk life and limb, literally, over the lush, comfortable life he lives with his people?


Buddy was home when I got home with the kids this afternoon at 4:00

Getting gas

You would think that would be fairly uneventful. Oh, no, not in redneck country, Louisiana.

Saturday night I was taking Zac to a party in Norwood, LA. I was under the impression that Norwood was about 15 miles from where we are in Zachary. The invitation included a small map of how to get to this girl's house and indicated that parents were welcome. That should have been my first warning. The party was at 7:00; we left at 6:30 to stop by Wal Mart to get a gift card and birthday card. I figured Zac would be fashionably late, like 7:15.

We drove and drove. My low-fuel light came on. We were in the middle of nowhere getting a little nervous. We had been driving already about 20 minutes, so I called the girl's house. Her dad, laughingly, asked if we'd made it to Mississippi yet. I said not yet, we had just passed through Slaughter. He told me that if we get to the MS line, we'd gone too far (duh!) and to turn back around and take the first right off of the highway.

At this point I was a little aggravated that the map didn't have any indication that we were going so far away and understood why parents were welcome to attend the party. Who wanted to drive 40 minutes there, and 40 back only to turn back around? I apologized to Zac for being so late. It was already 7:25 and we needed to get gas.

We came into a small town called Ethel and there was a Texaco station at the flashing light intersection. The pump section of the station was new and modern, but the store part of the station was very old with fliers and posters plastered all over the windows and painted wooden signs advertising fresh cracklins. I didn't think much of it since the gas was fully 10c less than that in Zachary. Since we were so late to the party, I thought I'd at least fill up.

That's when the interesting thing happened.

The guy who had the car on the other side of the pump I was using stumbled out of the store, let out a HUGE burp and started filling his car. I could hear liquid spilling out on the ground and thought maybe he didn't get the nozzle in correctly and I started to peek around the pump. I'm so glad I stopped myself because I noticed his feet spread apart farther than was necessary to maintain balance, then I saw a small stream of liquid pooling at the elevated curb where the pump is mounted, THEN I heard the tell-tale sigh of a man satisfied.

He was peeing at the pump while he put gas in his car. Kinda gives new meaning to Pay-at-the-Pump. Tell me you won't think of that next time you get gas! :)

I immediately stopped filling my car, and jumped in the car to take off. The pump was at $15.12. I figured that was enough gas to get out to BFE without being stranded. Zac asked what was wrong. I told him about the man peeing. We had a good laugh and said that if we didn't ever make it to this party, we certainly had an adventure.

By the way, we did make it to the party...AT 7:40! Meghan, the party girl, was really happy Zac and so many of her friends made the effort to get out there. I just wish we had coordinated our efforts better and carpooled.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Can you believe it?

We hosted another dog yesterday and last night. The neighbors behind us, diagonally, got a new puppy and were gone yesterday. They left this puppy outside and it kept getting out and coming over to our house, so we kept her for the night. We'll take her home before we go to church this morning.

She's a really good puppy. She slept with George and me so we could get up with her during the night.

What is interesting about this puppy is that she is a peace offering. Our back yard neighbor, Terry, told me that her next-door neighbor (my diagonal back-yard neighbor and the owner of this puppy) came over to apologize to her for her fiance and her fighting. The woman and her 2 young daughters left for about a week and stayed with her mother. It turns out that the man was hitting her. She was talking about leaving him, but I guess a puppy makes everything better.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

I'm finished

I finished reading Same Kind of Different as Me.

As I told you before, I read it for my Sunday school class.

It was a good book, a touching and tender story.

I think the kernel of truth I'll take from it is that one person can make a difference.

Tell me your thoughts if you've read the book.

dog, pie and post holes

Pay close attention to the comma. We did not have Dog Pie.

Buddy's back. George was using my car yesterday so he could do some work on his, so he picked me up from work. When we got home, Buddy was waiting at the back door, sans collar and leash. I figure he got hung up in something and wriggled his head out of his collar. Some farmer will find a leash and collar wrapped around some scrub brush someday and have a few questions.

The pie was fantastic. Very easy, good, reliable recipe. I encourage you to make one. I think I'll bring it to Thanksgiving.

Yesterday afternoon, George and I dug the post holes for the new fence. Here are some pictures:

Naturally, nothing can go perfectly. We had to do 5 holes. Numbers 1-3 were easy. Number 4 got stuck and we had to dig out the auger. Number 5 cut through the telephone line, even though we weren't ANYWHERE close to the marked lines the city laid out for us a few days ago.

Oh well. George and the boys are on their way to a cross country meet right now. I have to work today. Hopefully, they'll finish setting the posts while I'm at work.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

trying a new recipe

My friend, Chris, sent me this recipe today for a chocolate pecan pie with green chiles and beer in the recipe. Having all of the ingredients on hand, I decided to try it out. Click here for the recipe.

If I do say so myself, I make a pretty pie. I hope it tastes as good as it looks.

By the way, Buddy the Dog got out this evening and hasn't come back yet.

Stupid-ass dog ran off wearing his leash too. I hope he hasn't gotten hung up in something or run over. We've begun the candlelight vigil...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Here are some idiot politics

And of course, it's all Bush's fault.

You know how to keep from losing your house?


George and I just refinanced our house. Three years ago when we originally bought the house, we signed an 80/20 mortgage with a 3% introductory interest rate. We went in with our eyes completely open, read all of the fine print, asked a *LOT* of questions, and did simple math and signed on knowing full well that we would refi in 3 years, or risk paying as much as 11% interest. We calculated our 11% interest payment and knew that even if we weren't ready to refinance, we could still afford the higher payment. We just refinanced at 6% fixed.

I am sick to death of hearing how this mortgage company is to blame, that politician is to blame, or this bank is to blame. How about we turn the finger to ourselves and accept the blame and its ensuing concequences.

George and I are not financial whizzes, nor are we the Louisiana brain-trust. We're regular people who do our best to be good stewards of the money we earn and live within our means, continually working to be debt-free and unafraid of the idiot politics which put our country in such a tight spot.