Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Storm of the Century

So...it's been awhile. I've been really wrapped up in my photography lately.  I've been doing a 365 this year and it takes quite a bit of time every day. To keep up with my photos, you can check out (and follow!) my photo blog Views From a Small Town.

Okay, so with the apologies and plug out of the way, on to the Storm of the Century!



The Midwest was hit with what everyone has been calling the Storm of the Century. I'm not sure if it actually turned out that way, but it was a big storm. Some areas were hit with a blizzard, but for my little area of the Ozarks, we were mainly inundated with freezing rain. Luckily, it switched over to sleet, then snow before the ice accumulated to the point of taking down power lines.  That's not to say we are completely out of the woods. If the winds pick up enough, areas could still suffer power outages.

Severe winter storms affect the small towns differently than the cities. No worse, no better, but differently.

For those of us out in the sticks, severe winter storms can isolate us from the rest of the world. The plows don't hit the outer roads until the major roads have been cleared (sometimes until a day after the storm stops) and it can be weeks for the county roads to be plowed...if ever. County roads also keep the snow longer because the trees shade the road and keep the snow from melting.

Luckily, more of us have 4-wheel drive. Also, we know how to use it... Some people who live in the city have never used the 4-wheel drive in their SUVs. I no longer have a truck, but when I did, I would have my dad put a round bale of hay in the back to weigh it down prior to the storm hitting. 4-wheel drive doesn't mean more traction, just the ability to get out of the ditch if you slide off the road. The extra weight sure does help.

A lot of people in the country have gas to heat their house, and those who don't often have a generator to help power the necessities. I don't, but my parents do, so I have a place to go if my power goes out. Of  course, my dad would have to come and get me in the tractor, but still... Then there are all the wood stoves and fireplaces. To be fair, I'm not sure how many people in the city have options other than electricity, but I'm pretty sure most apartments run off electricity. Mine did when I was in college... Maybe that's were we have an advantage.

The stores are always packed before a storm. I'm sure that is the same no matter where you live. However, those who live in big cities (not the burbs) are close enough to grocers that stocking up isn't a necessity. When you live 10 miles from the nearest grocery...it's a must.

Also, if the power goes out, those in the country are the last to have their power turned back on. It's more important to get a neighborhood of 100 up and running, than to go out and make sure 5 houses out on one country road have power. I get that, but that is the way it is.

I spent two days before the storm prepping. I made sure that all the laundry and dishes were washed in case the power went out. I took out the trash, bought monthly groceries two days early, and filled the tank on the car. If the temps drop to well below freezing like they say it will (-12 is predicted), then I will leave my water running to keep the pipes from freezing.

At this point, the power is still on and I pray that it stays that way. I can't wait to go out tomorrow and brave the cold to take photos. Until then, here are some photos of what hit around my house today.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Early Riser



It is six in the morning and I have been up for almost an hour. I HATE mornings. So why do I get up so early? It is the only way I can function. It takes me about 3 hours to really wake up and for my brain to kick into gear.

My friends usually think I'm crazy when they find out that I get up so early if I don't have to be at work until 7:30 (even though I get there at 7). To be fair, I am usually only awake around an hour and a half before I leave the house, but I'm pretty low maintenance, so most of that time is spent vegging out. 

If I have to get up and rush around in the morning, my day is bound to be fairly crappy. Guaranteed. I just don't feel like a real human until I have been awake for several hours. Since I'm a teacher, I really need to be on top of my game by the time the kids hit my door at 8am, so I guess I will have to continue to wake up at 5 am every morning.

I've been especially productive this morning. Usually I just sit around and watch TV for about 45 minutes, but today I actually started moving fairly early. I already have my lunch made for the day, my hair flattened, clothes picked out and I am halfway through breakfast. It's a banner day already!

If you are a night person and find that you are groggy throughout most of the morning, consider getting up a little extra early so you don't have to rush around in the morning. Give your brain some time to wake up slowly. It might seem counter-productive, but it works for me!

But know this...if I'm on break or it is a Saturday and I don't have to go anywhere, you can bet your bottom dollar my feet don't hit the floor before 8am!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Small Town Sunday #12 - Christmas 2010

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and remembered the reason for the season. I am saddened when I think of how many people celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ without recognizing it in any way; some don't even know that is the reason we even have Christmas... We give presents because the Wise Men gave presents to the baby Jesus, not because Santa exists.

Speaking of presents, I was a really good girl this year and received some great presents. I like my gifts much better than Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. Well, enough gold would have allowed me to get these gifts, but...

My Christmas Haul

I asked for a professional quality tri-pod, the lens (55-300), the Roku and the food processor. Everything else was bonus. Even the lens was really a bonus that I wasn't sure I would get. Yes, I got a Dewalt drill! I love it! My dad always gets me cans of de-icer. It's a tradition. I have LOTS stored in a tub from previous Christmases and really need to give some away. The Roku isn't living up to my expectations, but I'm hoping that eventually it will work better as technology advances and hopefully my internet speed increases (I have the fastest available for my neck of the woods, but it is only 1.0 Mb). 

I will be going to the "big town" to after-Christmas shop tomorrow. It is a day later than usual, but with the 26th being a Sunday this year, I was at church instead of shopping. I am hoping to get a few deals and buy some much needed clothes. I hated to buy anything prior to Christmas in case I got something for Christmas, but now it is time to fill the holes in my (much smaller sized) wardrobe.

Cullen will miss the tree. He LOVES to sleep under it!

I hate to think of having to take down all the Christmas decorations. Not because I am sad to see them go, but because I'm too lazy to want to take everything down, box it up and put it in storage. It's my least favorite part of the Holiday season. We are supposed to have one day this week that the temps will get around 60 degrees, so I guess I will take down the outside lights then.

Here's hoping that you are able to enjoy what remains of the holiday season!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Real Me

This year has been an experience. A huge part of that experience has been my weight loss. I am within 5 pounds of having lost 100 pounds! I started Weight Watchers the second week in January of this year, and I hope that I will have lost 100 pounds by the second week of January 2011. A hundred pounds lost in a year...I can't even imagine.

Me after losing almost 100 pounds
The other day some of my family members dug out pictures of me from last Christmas. They are heartbreaking to look at. I joked that I couldn't believe they let me out in public looking like that, but in reality I only see how miserable I was. There's not many pictures of me around because I wouldn't let people take pictures. I refused to even really look at myself in the mirror, choosing instead to use only a small hand mirror to put on my make-up in the morning. I hated everything about the way I looked and felt.

As I looked at those pictures and reflected back on my life for the last 8-10 years of being over-weight, I began to realize that losing all that weight has allowed me to be who I really am.  Thinking back, I realize now that I felt as if I was wearing a fat suit and that I should be able to just take it off whenever I wanted. It never seemed real that I weighed so much, that I looked so big. In my mind and in my dreams, I was still average sized. It was a shock every time I saw myself in a photo or a mirror.

People who know me have commented on how my attitude has changed with the weight loss. I am happier and it shows. It has helped me out in my relationships and at work.

I'm often heard to say, "Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels." This is so true because feeling thin is so much different that I ever thought it would be (or remembered it being) when I was fat. Knowing that I look better is only half of why being thin feels good. Attitude is the other half. I am just an all around happier person, and I think it is because I can now be the person I really was on the inside. I don't have to feel like the real me is being hidden under layers of fat and giant clothes that are meant to try to hide how fat I really was.

I'm not done; I still have over 30 pounds to lose, but the big change has already happened. I can be me now; I feel as if others can now see the real me.

If you are overweight and are unhappy with how you look and feel, then I encourage you to finally make the decision to make a permanent life-style change for the better because NOTHING tastes as good as being thin feels!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Single Saturday #12 - A Depressing New Development



I opened my email the other day and there was a letter in there from my aunt about a Christmas get-together at her house this weekend. Due to the fact that my generation has all gotten married and has other families to include in their Christmas celebrations (which kept them from coming to ours), we started getting together the week before Christmas so everyone could be there.

Instant depression set in as I looked at the email. It was a list of what food everyone was supposed to bring to the party.  As I scrolled down the list, everyone was listed as a couple...but me. All my aunts and uncles...and all my cousins. Every one of them. My name was the only one that sat by itself. (I do have a 16-year-old cousin that isn't married, but she wasn't on the list.)

To be fair, I've known this for awhile. I think my aunt was the last to get married a few years ago, but seeing it in 22 point font...well, that was just a little depressing.  Now, that doesn't mean I want to go out there and get married just so my name isn't by itself on a list, but still...depressing.

Have any of you had a moment of realization like that?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Small Town Sunday #11 - The Christmas Cantata






This weekend is the yearly Christmas Cantata. Every year my church and another local church get together to put on a Christmas Cantata. Maybe you know what a cantata is, and maybe you don't. A cantata is a vocal composition that is made up of a choir and various solos, duets, trios, etc that is set to music.

I'm not sure if Christmas Cantatas are done much in larger cities. I would think their Christmas productions would be much larger than the cantatas we see in a small town. This isn't Handel's Messiah with the choir shapes like a Christmas tree and real live animals on stage.



I don't sing in the cantata. I used to, but I have issues with being stuck in the middle of a crowd...I almost passed out one year. Nope, I run the sound.  Talk about stressful. If I mess up, EVERYONE knows it...

This is exactly like the soundboard I use at the other church...I HATE it and how they have their sound set up. The one at my church is much larger, has better capabilities and the channels have been organized much better.




I have so much to do during the cantata. It's more than just pressing play on the CD player. I have to change the gains, slides, mute and un-mute the channels for different singers, stop and start the CD at the right times during the narration... It is soooo... stressful. I enjoy doing it, but I'm always glad when the performances are over.

If you haven't ever experienced a small town Christmas Cantata, you should find one in your area. They really are enjoyable and will help you get into the Christmas Spirit. Besides, everyone should be reminded of the true meaning of Christmas!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Single Saturday #11 - What Do Women Want In A Man?


What are all those single women out there looking for in a man? Thankfully, what attracts each person is usually a little different from what attracts the next person. If that wasn't true, man would have become extinct sometime shortly after Adam and Eve.

Personally, I like tall men (I am 6 foot myself) with dark hair, thin, but athletic build (think basketball/baseball players, not football or wresting) and definitely good looking. He has to be kind, funny, intelligent, caring and a slew of other great traits.

I don't usually pay any attention to the requests I get to promote books, products and websites targeted at singles, but I actually thought this one was interesting. Even though we all look for different things in our ideal person, there are some things that tend to be universal. Go check out this article on 10 Things Women Most Want From Their Men at Best Dating Sites.  Let me know if you agree with their list of 10 things...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Small Town Sunday #10 - Big City Shopping






One of the downsides to living in a small town, especially my small town, is having to drive to a larger city to do major shopping. Unfortunately, my small town is almost 100 miles from a city large enough to have any major shopping.  This does, however, make shopping an experience, one that can be a lot of fun if you go with the right person(s).

My mother and I made a "quick" trip to the city to buy a new faucet for my leaky sink after I got off work on Friday. I had looked all around our small town and couldn't find the type of faucet I wanted, and I knew Lowe's would have one. Normally, I would buy it online and not need to drive an hour and a half one-way to buy a faucet, but I had someone coming to my house the next day to install it, so...

One thing that seems to never fail when going to "the big city" to shop, is running into someone from our small town. At Lowe's we ran into my best friends' in-laws (yes, that was an intentional plural possessive. Two of my besties are married to brothers and have the same in-laws) I hadn't seen them in awhile because we no longer go to the same church. It was nice to catch up.

After finding the faucet, we went across the road to Target so I could look for a present for my niece (what I had ordered on line was NOTHING like I expected, but that's another story). As we were leaving target (without the present), who did we see but our neighbor and her little girls. 

It is so weird to be in a huge store, in a big city and look over and see someone from your small town. You just have to go over and say "hi".  It is like looking at a Where's Waldo and actually finding Waldo in your first glance at the page. Maybe it's more like winning the find-a-friend-among-400,000-people lottery.  Either way, it's always a little shock...even though it happens every time I go to the "big city".

So even in a big city, there is still a little small town feel. It reminds me of the song, "It's a Small World After All."  Sometimes the big city can be like a small town. Of course, there are people out there who would consider a town with just under half a million in population to BE a small town. I would completely disagree. Probably because my town has under 3,000 people.  Now THAT'S a small town!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

More Facebook Faux Pas

As an addition to yesterday's post, I thought of something else that really bugs me when it comes to Facebook...

 Couples with one FB account. Example: Jim and Samantha White 

I have been seeing this more and more. First off, I have NO IDEA who is commenting. Is the wife? The husband? How am I supposed to know? Who liked my status? Who commented on the picture I posted. Who thinks what I said was, "so funny I peed my pants. lol"?  And I always notice that their comments are made in the first person. Shouldn't it be, "so funny we peed our pants. lol"?

I find this very obnoxious and irritating. It's as if they have literally become one person instead of two individuals. I realize that during marriage ceremonies there is often a line that has something to do with two becoming one, but this is taking it too far.  I usually blame the wife, and I often wonder if the husband even knows he's "on Facebook".

Does anyone have friends like this? Have you ever heard a legitimate reason for doing this? Please let me know...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What Bugs Me About Facebook

This is my blog and I reserve the right to be petty and vent about things that bug me if I so choose.  Today I've decided to rant about FB status updates that bug me. Here are a list of things that I either get tired of seeing, or think people shouldn't do...

1. Constantly updating about how awesome your kids are. I cared the first time, maybe the second...I'm over it.

2.  Pregnant women not being able to talk about anything but the pregnancy.  Seriously? Is that ALL that's going on in your life? And don't get me started about women who try for a long time to get pregnant, then all their FB updates talk about how miserable they are being pregnant.


3. Cussing in your updates. In my opinion, this deserves an automatic "unfriending". I don't want to see you dropping F-bombs all over my Home page. I realize that's your prerogative, but it is my prerogative not to have to see it.

4. People who use FB updates as a place to "anonymously" argue with someone or air your dirty laundry.  Okay, once in awhile is okay, but I have known people that just look crazy because all of their updates read something like this: I just can't believe you did that to me. Why would you go behind my back and say those things? Not cool, not cool...

5. Using "text speech" in FB updates.  Good grief. I don't get on Facebook to spend time having to decode your messages because you're too lazy to type out an extra letter or two. Maybe I have to deal with this more than the average adult because I have so many students as friends on Facebook.

I am sure that given enough time, I could come up with a much longer list. Right now this will have to do.

Do you have things like this that bug you? How many are willing to confess that they do any of these things?