Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wet Nose Therapy

 All I pay my psychiatrist is the cost of feed and hay, and he'll listen to me any day.....Author Unknown

       Let me begin by saying that I don't have a degree in psychiatry, nor have I ever seen a psychiatrist. I haven't even played one on TV (although I have stayed at a Holiday Inn).....but I digress.

     What I do know is that there is a lot of talk out there about ways to be happier and I have one small suggestion you may want to consider trying....I call it Wet Nose Therapy. For all you dog/cat owners out there - you know what I'm talking about.

There are many moment's in a day when we could all use some wet nose therapy.
  • You wake up exhausted and just want to pull the covers over your head
  • You had a lousy day at work
  • You had a fight with your best friend, boyfriend, spouse (no Hubby I don't mean you)
  • You got a speeding ticket, didn't get the job, spilled your coffee on yourself....
  • Insert your own scenario here
Then something happens......a wet nose nudges your hand or head butts you, and instantly there is someone saying "Hey, it's ok. I understand you even if no one else does. And even if you didn't get the job, drive too fast, broke up with loser (No Hubby, not you), I still love you and that's all that matters."

You can sit and talk to them without judgement for hours on end and they will just listen and they will love you no matter what you tell them....How amazing is that?

I currently live with  2 psychiatrists:

Kim cat (my 20 lb baby)   

Daisy Mae (my 10 lb street tough).

    Daisy is my snuggle bug who never misses a moment to show her extreme affection for whoever is present. On a bad day I only have to pick her up and within seconds the wet nose makes things a little brighter. Now Kim Kat's a different story as he's my "own terms" cat. As in, I will snuggle with you on my own terms. Yet, somehow he always manages to sense when I could use some support and he's there with a gentle head butt to your leg to just say "Hey."

      If you don't currently have any 4 legged doctors on staff, I highly suggest looking into getting one. I myself would have a dog doctor as well if not due to my severe allergic reaction to them. I have a lesser allergy to cats as well (God's way of keeping me from adopting every stray out there) but a strong supply of allergy medicine makes things tolerable. 

Some of the health benefits of owning a cat or dog include:
  • lower blood pressure - particularly stroking dogs and cats
  • reduced heart rate
  • relaxation
  • a mood boost through increased serotonin levels (feel-good hormone)
  • increased social interaction - see Dogs and Autism
  • develop outward focus
  • improve confidence & self-esteem
 So if you are looking for some alternative medicine, my advice would be to take two of these and call me in the morning....... :)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

You Can't Make This Stuff Up........

           I’ll admit it; I like to observe people and conversations, when I’m in public. When you’re looking for character and story ideas, you take your inspiration where you can find it. Recently, because of the increased amount of writing, I’ve been even more aware of the people around me when I’m out and about. This week in particular was pretty entertaining.

Ex. 1.) Daughter and Father perusing the $5 DVD section at Target.

Father – “Oh this looks like a good one, don’t you think?”

Daughter (Probably about 7 years old) – “Daddy, we cannot get that movie!”

Father – “Why not?”

Daughter – “Daddy, there’s a dog in it. If there is a dog in the movie, it means something bad is going to happen to it.” (Someone’s been watching too much Old Yeller…..)

Father – “Really? Wow, how do you know that?”

Daughter – “Come on, it’s in all the movies….Marley and Me? There’s a dog in it. He gets old and has to go away… I can’t watch any movies with dogs in them.” (Note to self….start checking the backs of movies to see if a dog is mentioned before renting.) 

Ex. 2) Teenage boyfriend and girlfriend in makeup aisle – Girl is looking at nail polish.

Girl – “Which color do you like?”

Boy – “This one (hands her a shade of pink.)

Girl – “Oh! I can’t buy this – the rack for this one is full!”

Boy – “What does that mean??"

Girl – “It means no one likes this color!”(Duhhhh!)

Boy – “Well I like the color. That’s all the matters right?” (Awww so naive)

Girl – “Yeah….I guess so…(Not convincing sweetie)...Oh! I just remembered. I have an OPI color like this at home (Good Save) so I’ll just pick something else.”

Boy – “I have no idea what that means, but okay.”

Girl – “What about this color?” (Hands him something with sparkles…and a lot of them.)

Boy(Looking closely at the label) “I guess it’s good if you were going to a Bratz slumber party….” (Again after reading the color name) “Wow, nothing says maturity like Spunky Sprinkles.”

I can’t make this stuff up……

Ex. 3 ) Outlet Bread Store (Hubby and I are waiting in line.) 

NOTE - All the staff in the store have hair dos like Marge Simpson and have a voice like Flo from Alice….

The customer ahead of us in line very politely inquires about a certain product.

Customer – “Do you know if you still carry the Honey Oat Bread?”(The cashier gestures to another staff member across the room and suggests she asks her.)

(As the customer heads for the other employee the cashier hollers (I’m not kidding when I say China would have heard her) across the room which is literally about the size of a...breadbox.

Cashier– “Hey Bev (insert Flo’s voice here) – she wants to know if we have some oat stuff something or other!” (Entire room is now looking due to volume of voice….except for the employee she was yelling to.)
Cashier now waits on customer in front of us. While waiting for customer to dig the change out of her purse, the cashier takes the down time to readjust the fake pony tale attached to the top of her head. She then proceeds to hike up her shirt to rearrange the skin tight leggings she’s wearing (and when I say rearrange….I mean rearrange. ) Hubby now resembles deer caught in the headlights…..
Cashier now takes money from customer but change drawer will not close. “Flo” is now slamming drawer repeatedly and I am pretty sure we should duck soon as I feel it’s going to take flight any moment.. Ahhh success. Now the drawer has closed and we are safe from flying cash registers once again.

As we are walking out the door, the employee that “Flo” bellowed at walks up to the counter. “Hey, did you say something before?”

Seriously? How can I make this stuff up???

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hook Line and Sinker........

           “It was a dark and stormy night” is one of the most famous openings to a book, but probably one of the biggest clich├ęs as well. In today’s writing world that's just not good enough. According to the classes I’ve attended and the articles I’ve read, your opening line needs to "hook" your readers right from the start, or else they’re going to move on to another book and pretty fast. 
              My friend and I were discussing this concept and wondered if it always held true for the books that have been best sellers, or for the ones that we ourselves had loved. Sometimes when buying books, I’ll pick one based on the plot summary on the back of the book. Sometimes I’m going off of the recommendation of someone else. It’s rare that I will open a book and make my judgment based solely on the first couple of lines. I decided to check out my bookshelf for the opening line(s) of some of my favorites. Based on the opening lines, would I still have chosen to read these books? All of these books intrigued me, shocked me, moved me in some way, shape, or form, but could I say the same of their opening line? 

             The Handmaid’s tale (Margaret Atwood) – “We slept in what had once been the gymnasium. The floor was of varnished wood, with stripes and circles painted on it, for the games that were formerly played there; the hoops for the basketball nets were still in place, though the nets were gone.” I read this book in college on a dare that I couldn't read it in a weekend....But I have to say the opening (other than wondering why they were sleeping in a gymnasium) did absolutely nothing for me. The first chapter is only two and half pages, but by the end of them I knew I would keep reading, dare or no dare. Anyone who has read this book has to agree that it’s a very scary portrait of what our world could become under the wrong government.

            The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold) – “My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973. In newspaper photos of missing girls from the seventies, most looked like me; white girls with mousy brown hair.” Pretty dramatic opening which hooked me right away. It's a depressing story but have to say that it's very well written.

            Bel Canto (Ann Patchett) – “When the lights went off the accompanist kissed her. Maybe he had been turning towards her just before it was completely dark, maybe he was lifting his hands. There must have been some movement, a gesture, because every person in the living room would later remember a kiss.” Odd opening, but maybe just intriguing enough to keep me reading? It was highly recommended to me by a friend and it became one of my favorites, so again is it always the opening lines that convince us to keep reading?

            White Oleander (Janet Fitch) – “The Santa Anas blew in hot from the desert, shriveling the last of the spring grass into whiskers of pale straw. Only the oleanders thrived, their delicate poisonous blooms, their dagger green leaves. We could not sleep in the hot dry nights, my mother and I. I woke up at midnight to find her bed empty. I climbed to the roof and easily spotted her blond hair like a white flame in the light of the three - quarter moon.” Ironically this story begins with another big no-no which is weather. Who knew right? And yet there was something about the voice of this character that made me want to keep reading.......that and the poisonous flower......
            Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (Rebecca Wells) – “Sidda is a girl again in the hot heart of Louisiana, the bayou world of Catholic saints and voodoo queens. It is Labor Day, 1959 at Pecan Grove Plantation, on the day of her daddy’s annual dove hunt. While the men sweat and shoot, Sidda’s gorgeous mother, Vivi, and her gang of girlfriends, the Ya-Ya’s, play bourree, a cut-throat Louisiana poker, inside the air-conditioned house. On the kitchen blackboard is scrawled: SMOKE, DRINK, NEVER THINK – borrowed from Billie Holiday.” Okay, now this one had me hooked on reading it just on the intro alone…..Plus, I always wanted to be a southern gal…. :)

      So, to acquire some help with my opening lines, I’d like to know - the books you’ve read and loved – did they have an amazing or just so-so opening? Was there a book with a great opening that you didn’t end up loving? I'd appreciate your opinion on the "hook."        ~ Adrienne     

Friday, June 24, 2011

Green Acres......

Green acres is the place for me.
Farm livin' is the life for me. Land spreadin' out so far and wide    

Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside. 

     On a recent trip in the country, my Hubby pointed out an old style John Deere farm tractor for sale by the side of the road. As we live in the suburbs I asked Hubby where he thought he might use said tractor. That started him off on talk of chucking it all to start his own farm. We exchanged a few wisecracks about chickens and a goat or two. No cows I told him as I can't live with the smell. A few days later he says to me and I quote:

  Hubby -   "So Jill (his sister) says she's in for a goat and John (his cousin) is in for a couple of chickens. Oh and Steve (his friend) is in for a couple of chickens too."
  Me - "I'm sorry, what do you mean they're in for?"    
  Hubby - "For the farm."
  Me - "Ohhhh right, the farm. Umm so these are like farm warming gifts? Ha ha ha"
  Hubby - "Yeah something like that."

   So tonight, while out to dinner with a Good friend (here after referred to as Instigator), Hubby brings up the farm idea again and I'm beginning to fear that this is becoming more than a funny anecdote. The story begins with Hubby extolling the virtues of the tractor he saw. When Instigator wasn't getting the picture of it, I said "you know like the tractor he rides at the beginning of Green Acres." 
    "Ahhhh" Instigator said. "Now I get it." 

    Instigator and Hubby spend next hour discussing the various types of crops, produce, items, etc their farm could be known for. There is a discussion of hydroponics (after clarifying to Instigator that this does not involve anything illegal), coffee and bananas (climate no good), eggs (you'll need a lot of range chickens) and finally hops, barley, etc for beer. There was also a discussion of greenhouses and biospheres.

   Instigator - "Hey didn't the funding just run out for the biosphere out West? It's just sitting there idle right?" 
   From there talk turned to the type of "uniform" they would be wearing. I believe they settled on Carhartt overalls, straw hats and plaid shirts. (My apologies to Instigator's girlfriend.) From there, the farm idea turned into a farm/bed and breakfast, with a landing strip that also had an airplane shuttle service to and from said bed and breakfast, with lake for jet skiing, and $1,000 omelets (made of course with the eggs from our chickens.....). 
    As the conversation went further and further and Instigator continued to "encourage" farm fantasy, I commented that this was getting out of hand and I felt a little like Zaza Gabor getting dragged to the middle of the which they both just laughed.
    It's now two hours later and Instigator and Hubby are both researching farming and crops.....and I'm scared. :(


PS - Did I mention that the neighborhood we currently live in is called Green Acres?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Coffee Talk......

Way too much coffee.  But if it weren't for the coffee, I'd have no identifiable personality whatsoever.  ~David Letterman

    My name is Adrienne and I am addicted It has now been four days without coffee and I feel....decaffeinated? In an effort to add some healthy choices to my life I decided to forgo it during the week, allowing myself to only have it on weekends. Now if you read my profile you know that I love coffee.....Cafe Lattes, Mocha Lattes, Caramel Macchiatos, Java, Joe, Cup of Ambition....whatever you need to call it, I need to have it.
In my previous days I would start my weekday mornings with two cups at home, followed at work by at least one, possibly two (depending on the depth of my exhaustion.)

Some (rare) mornings I would treat myself by stopping off at a local Starbucks for a Tall Pike's Place with a shot of caramel.....Heaven, I'm in Heaven....but I digress.  

        Sunday mornings would begin with at least one cup at home, followed by a pot at our local breakfast haunt....followed by a day of nervous energy and not in a good way. I knew I may have a problem when I friend recently introduced me to Stokd Coffee Shots. They're shots that come in tiny creamer sized container. Basically it's the equivalent of adding a shot of your coffee. Are you sensing my issue? I know a few people who are able to begin their days with nothing caffeine related...and I'm still not entirely certain they are human. (I'm just kidding - you know I love you all, just jealous is all.)
        So as a step toward improved health I have decided to attempt Herbal Teas.....according to the hype it gives you the same mental stimulation without the jitters. My morning now begins with a cup of Gogi Berry Pomegranate Green Tea (by the way...I'm exhausted just saying it.) When I arrive at work there is a cup of Morning Thunder (I kid you not on the name - it actually has a Buffalo on the package. If that isn't stimulating, I don't know what is.) So after four days I'll admit I'm not jittery but I can't say I'm bright eyed and bushy tailed either....but I am going to grind (no pun intended) away at this.....anyone have any advice, tea recommendations, permission to resume said addiction???

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year....

"Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language."
- Henry James

   In my humble opinion, today should be considered a national holiday. The summer solstice for me, marks the absolute best time of the year. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I am perpetually cold. I kid you not when I say I once climbed to the top of the Wright Brother's Memorial on a day when it was 110 degrees with the heat index.....and I was comfortable. So you can imagine why this season is my favorite time of the year. What's not to love?

  • Flip Flops, bare toes, painted toes, cool air rushing over feet that have been crammed inside of heavy socks and bulky boots for far too many months.
  • Patios, Decks, Stoops, and Porches.....add a few friends and a drink or two for instant fun.
  • Along those same lines....restaurants with outdoor patios. Buffalonians loooove to eat and in the summer months the restaurants that feature an outdoor eating area, are crammed to the breaking point with customers.
  • Driving with the windows down, singing along to an amazing summer tune...May I suggest, "Summer in the City", "Saturday in the Park", "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" and my all time favorite "Cruel Summer."
  • Hot cement under your feet, as you head for a pool....God bless our neighbors for being so generous with theirs. :)
  • Watching everything grow....Basil, Rosemary, Patio Tomatoes, Coreopsis, Dahlias, Rosebushes and Astilbe. 
  • Hot summer nights, sleeping with an old fashioned box fan in the window. Love that white noise....and for those of you who suggest air conditioning to me; please refer to the section of the blog that refers to my issues with cold.
  • Reading/napping in a hammock on a lazy afternoon....if you do not have one, I HIGHLY suggest that you invest in one. Your happiness may depend on it....
  • Summer Food...watermelon, strawberries, clams, corn on the cob, basil and tomatoes, ice cream cones that could feed a small village and of course a burger straight from the grill with all the fixings...(this was dinner tonight in honor of the soon to be national holiday.)
  • A Great Thunder storm (Let me preface this by saying the storm should not cause any damage.) Sitting in the dark, watching the sky light up from the heavens, can be a pretty amazing sight....
  • Getting to be a kid again....running barefoot, playing frisbee, watching for fireflies, picnics, and blowing bubbles! Yes, I said blowing bubbles. I realize I'm 30......something but I dare you to get yourself a bottle of bubbles and not end up grinning from ear to ear. Seriously a simple pleasure in life...and those are the best.
So as we close out the 1st official day of summer, Happy Holiday to you and yours....... :)
     ~ Adrienne

PS - Go get an ice cream....:)

    Saturday, June 18, 2011

    Unconventional Dads.......

    In honor of Father's Day, I'd like to say a word or two about unconventional fathers. The dictionary defines unconventional as: "Not based on or conforming to what is generally done or believed."  I'd like to think of this as a good thing. We can all tick off a list of items that will generally describe most fathers; played baseball with me, likes to tell jokes, brave, took me fishing, taught me to ride a bike, etc. There's not a thing wrong with any of those traits, but what I want to talk about are the traits that make your dad, your dad, and no one else.
          Growing up, my father's job did not allow for a normal 9-5 schedule. Instead it was more of the 7-3, 3-11, 11-7, and back again schedule. Because of this, he missed a lot of school functions, parties, holidays, etc. But in the big picture of life, I can barely remember myself the things he wasn't able to be there for. I remember instead the things that made him who he was. Here's a few of them......
    •       He relocated to Northern NY with our family, because he loved the outdoors and nature. Instead of a standard house, he built us a log cabin (Laura Ingalls anyone?), all while working a full time job.
    •       He planted a mass of flowers and hung bird houses all over our property. He taught us the names of all those flowers along with the birds that filled the houses. 
    •      When other families flew to Florida for a family vacation, we rode the train to get there. I'll admit there were times when I wondered why we weren't flying for convenience sake. However, I realized that in the two days it took us to get there, we could just hang out and spend time as a family. We got to experience views of the Eastern Coast of the US that we might not have seen otherwise. I'll admit that going through Washington D.C. in the middle of the night, getting to see all the monuments lit up, was a pretty cool sight.
    •      He was a stickler for working hard in school, but he would be willing to set us free for a day if a teachable moment presented itself. That moment came in driving to Canada when one of the space shuttles was going to be on display for a day.
    •     He loved giving unusual gifts, especially in the form of food items. If he found out you liked a certain food, you got A LOT OF IT. :) Sadly I can no longer eat Kiwis or Fruity Pebbles, but you can't say he wasn't thinking of you. I'll never forget the Christmas my mom opened a jar of pickled herring from :)
    •    After retiring he decided to go back to work as a substitute teacher as he felt he still had something to teach....did I mention this was while I was still in High School? (I'm still recovering by the way.)
         All of these things made my Dad uniquely who he is and I am the better for it. I'd love to hear what made your father (or the father figure in your life) the unconventional man that he is!
             - Adrienne

    PS. Dad - I'm still really sorry for raising my hand in class that time you asked who there didn't know you...really...really...sorry..... :)

    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    I Blame my Mom and Cinderella

    Welcome! This is the first of what I hope will be many posts, writings, rants, and nonsense, on my foray into the writing world (along with other observations of the world around me.) One of the first recommendations we received at a recent writing conference was a blog so here I am…..Ta Da!.....Drum roll? Anyone? Bueller? Oh well…
                One of my earliest memories is of my Mom reading to me……all the time. The first book I remember her reading was Cinderella. We read it ALL THE TIME. Apparently I couldn’t get enough of Cindi, the glass slipper and all her mouse friends. I had her reread it to me so much that she must have wanted to bibbidi-bobbidi-boo me right over the head with it. But being the amazing Mom that she is, she just continued reading it to me day after day. Somewhere in this process I ended up memorizing the book before I could actually read it on my own. I’m not sure when it happened, but at one point I began “reading” the book to her by memory, even remembering when the page needed to be turned. Can you really blame me for being addicted to the book? I mean it has ugly step sisters, a glass slipper and talking mice! How do you not get sucked into that? This pretty much opened my eyes to all the books there are to be read and once I knew how to read on my own there was no stopping me.
                Based on this being my first memory, is it any surprise that I would be drawn to the idea of writing? Something about that first story hooked me on words, books, stories, etc. and I’m finally getting up the courage to try it for real. So as you can see, I blame this entire “fantasy” of mine on my Mother, Cinderella…..oh yeah, and the furry mice. For all of my “readers” out there, what was the book/story that first hooked you?