Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Your Friendly Neighborhood Copperhead

Last night my husband was leaving the house to run a quick errand when he and a couple of neighbors who were walking their dog discovered a young Copperhead snake in the street. My husband came back inside and grabbed an old pillowcase to snag the reptile and escort it safely to the woods on the other side of our development.  I was in agreement with the neighbors, who offered a shovel to kill the snake! Copperheads are the most common venomous snake in the Southeast, but thankfully they are supposed to be the least toxic of the species and bites are rarely fatal. Either way, I'd still rather not have one nearby!  I have two small dogs, and while the bite may not be fatal to a human, I imagine it probably would be to a 4 pound Chihuahua.  Besides, I don't want to get bitten by ANYTHING, whether it would kill me or not!

I have to admit though, that snake was actually quite pretty!  I thought at first that it was a rattlesnake because it kept shaking its tail the way rattlesnakes do.  But a friend of ours identified it for us when DH sent him pictures, which is how I know it's actually a Copperhead. This little guy kept striking at the sides of the pillowcase my husband had trapped him in, and you could see the venom soaking into the cloth.  Kind of scary and cool at the same time! I can't believe I was brave enough to hold the pillowcase open while DH took the photos! It looks pretty angry in this picture.  I guess it's not too happy with his temporary home.  But it sure beats the sharp end of a shovel, little guy.

 Snake Spit! Check out the little spots of venom that soaked through the pillowcase:

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Oh, Blogger.

Oh, Blogger! What have you done to my dashboard?  It's hideous! :(

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Here, Fishy, Fishy, Fishy!

I went out on the boat with some friends today to fish out in the ocean.  It was a banner day for fishing!  The weather was gorgeous, the seas were calm, and the fish were biting like nobody's business.  At one point I had two hooks on my pole and caught two fish at once!  Pam managed to do that almost every time she put her pole in the water.  She also caught a humongous Trigger fish!! (Makes me wonder what exactly she was using for bait. And where can I get some for next time?)  My DH even caught TWO sharks! Mostly we caught black sea bass, but there were a few pin fish, toad fish, lizard fish and flounders in the mix too. I caught my first flounder today!  It was almost a keeper too, but it was a half an inch too short. Rats! But wasn't it a beauty? My friend Shannon was kind enough to hold it for me while I snapped a picture.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Surviving the Battle

Well, I survived two whole weeks at my new job, and I'm still alive and kicking.  Not only that, but I'm not only allowed to come back this week, but I'm actually going to! So far the coworkers are all great, and the customers have been great too.  I haven't been given a hard time about anything, and I haven't even seen any of the customers give any of the other tellers a hard time.  When we get super busy and don't have enough help, the branch manager actually puts in a drawer and helps wait on customers.  Everyone helps everyone in this place.  It's a foreign feeling for me, but I adore it. Finally a company that treats all employees like equals!

We'll be swamped tomorrow with all the deposits from the businesses that were swamped with Spring Breakers and Easter vacationers this weekend! It's going to be a long, long day, but I'm sure I'll handle it with all the grace God has given me. Our head teller, who is also the woman who trained me, will be on vacation all week, so that will be an extra obstacle to work around.  But I imagine we'll all get along just fine.

I hope you all have had a wonderfully blessed Easter!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Missing in Action

Well I finally found a job!  Hooray!  Of course now that means I'll be neglecting my blog even more since I won't have a lot of time to dally on the computer.  But since I'll be working at a bank as a teller, and the busy summer season is coming upon us quickly I hope I'll get to see and hear some interesting stuff to report to my dear readers.

I don't suppose I'll be as relaxed on the job as LOL Cat over there.  But I can always hope. I've made it through my first week, so I'm off to a good start. I imagine it will be a battle not to put all the weight I lost back on.  They have chocolate and candy EVERYWHERE, and on Mondays and Fridays they put out plates of fresh bakery cookies and lemonade. I have yet to be able to resist! But I bought lots of healthier snacks today to keep at my teller window, so hopefully I won't be as tempted anymore.  I'm keeping my expectations low for now.  My track record with yumminess is not so stellar!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

When Lightbulbs Attack!

Some friends and I were sitting around the kitchen table the other day, just minding our own business and having a nice chat.  Our calm, relaxed interlude was interrupted when one of the lightbulbs in the ceiling fan above us exploded. EXPLODED!  It rained glass shards down on me, littering the table, bench and floor with debris.  We looked up in shock and saw smoke wafting away from the remains of the bulb and filament that were still screwed into the socket. Good thing we hadn't started eating dinner yet, or all our food would have had to be tossed out.  Lots of tiny little slivers of glass can really ruin a good meal!


Never in my life have I seen a lightbulb explode. I've seen them blow out with a loud pop when you flip on the light switch, and sometimes smoke would fill the glass.  But this was the first time I've ever had one actually break the glass.  And it wasn't even right when we turned the light on.  It had been on for some time before it decided to give up the ghost.  That bulb must have been a little drama queen to feel the need to "go out with a bang" like that. I guess it preferred making a grand exit, like Dumbledore in "Harry Potter: The Order of the Phoenix".  Dumbledore's got style!  I love that scene. It makes the whole magician-disappearing-in-a-cloud-of-smoke routine look so five minutes ago. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Heal Already, Dang It!

If you read my most recent post, you'll know that I've been learning to ride a motorcycle and that two weeks ago I crashed and burned on a turn.  Well, crashed at least.  This is what she looked like while lying pathetically in a pile of sand after the wreck.  I was glad to have my cell phone in my pocket so I could call for help, and I was equally happy to be able to get some pictures of her after her first wreck. *sniff*  Molly took it like a champ! She certainly fared better than I did at least.


I wasn't hurt nearly as bad as I would have expected, but that deep scrape on the top of my knee is being a real pain. It was such a deep gouge that it is taking FOREVER to heal.  It gets smaller and smaller, but it still hurts sometimes.  Like yesterday, when I was trying to slip in the door without letting my Chihuahuas get past me, and I scraped my bare knee roughly against the metal edge of the screen door.  An entire rainbow of words escaped my mouth at that event.  OUCH. I was finally able to wear jeans Saturday evening, although any time I had to bend my knee it was uncomfortably tender and sore where the jeans pressed into my knee.  Which was pretty much any time I had to take a step or sit down. But that's still an improvement considering that for a long while even my baggy, light cotton pajama pants hurt whenever they would gently brush against my knee while I was walking.  I'm pretty sure these bruises are going to be sticking around for several more weeks, unfortunately. I guess I need to work on getting a tan so they'll be less noticeable!

I've been waiting to be able to wear jeans again (without pain!) so I could get back on Molly and do some more practicing. She's got her new shift lever installed and has been waiting patiently for me to take her for another spin. I'm hoping this week I'll be able to get out there! I have to admit I'm a bit nervous to go out by myself, especially since it's been 2 weeks since I've been on her and am probably rusty on the little bit I'd learned. Not to mention, since I'm not fully healed from my last crash, I can't help but wonder how badly it would turn out if I happened to wipe out again. I'm going to have to rope Sam into cruising the loop with me so he'll be on hand if I need him! The weather has been sensational lately, so I know he won't mind a chance to get out on the bike, even if it is just to lap me around the loop for a while.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

And This Is Why I Always Wear a Helmet: My First Motorcycle Crash

I totally wiped out on the bike Monday.  I'm not talking about "dropping" my bike either, but full on laying it down.  It happened so fast I'm still not exactly sure what happened.  I was making a left turn and I felt it getting away from me.  I was turning too wide, either because I wasn't leaning enough to make the turn or because I was trying to take it too fast.  There was a large patch of sand at the side of the road, and I was headed straight for it.  Knowing that sand and motorcycles do not play well with each other, I was not a happy camper.  I could see disaster heading straight for me. I don't know if it was the sand that made me lose control or if I tried to over-correct my turn to avoid the sand by leaning too much or if I just panicked and tried to turn the handlebars.  Anyone who rides a bike knows that you do NOT turn by turning the handlebars! I have no clue which one caused my crash, but it seemed that in about a single instant I went from seeing that sand coming my way and realizing that I wasn't going to make the turn to feeling my head smack against the pavement and then poor Molly and I were lying on our sides in that giant patch of sand.

I can't believe I wasn't hurt more than I was.  I NEVER get on a bike without wearing a helmet, even when I'm riding behind someone else.  I can only imagine how badly my head would have been hurt if I wasn't wearing mine.  It hit hard enough to scrape the side of the helmet and knock my visor off its track and put in a small crack. Yet I didn't even get so much as a mild headache. Whew!  Considering how bruised and scraped some of the rest of me is, I'm really glad my noggin was protected!  I was wearing jeans, some sturdy Keen hiking shoes, and my North Face jacket.  My poor left knee got the worst of the damage.  It managed to get scraped and bruised in two different spots - right on the patella and below it, where you might skin your knee if you feel down. I've got lots of bruising all over both legs, and some scratches on the lower part of my left leg. And my left hand is torn up pretty badly.  It hurts like the dickens, mostly because the worst part is right where my palm creases, so every time I move my thumb it stretches and folds the wound.  Ouch! When we stopped moving, I realized my left ankle and foot were under the bike.  It took me a few minutes to be able to find a way to lift the bike off my leg.  That beast is pretty heavy, especially when I've got one foot trapped under it and can't brace myself for more leverage. I was worried I was going to have more damage to my foot or ankle, but thankfully it wasn't anything more than bruises and scrapes.  Those rugged shoes really did a good job protecting my feet!

I was very glad to have my cell phone in my jacket pocket too, especially when I realized I couldn't pick the bike up on my own.  The tires were raised up on the curb, and with all that sand it made it even harder to try to get it lifted.  I could move it some, but not enough to get it all the way up. Looks like I need to start lifting heavier weights. Luckily for me, I have a super awesome friend, Sam, who I can always count on to help me out no matter what.  I gave him a call and he left work to come rescue me.  He was a Navy Corpsman and served with both the Navy and the Marines, so his medical knowledge came in handy too.  After he drove my bike home for me and I drove his vehicle, he gave me a thorough exam to make sure I wasn't hurt more than I realized. I had pretty much decided if I could move all my limbs and wasn't bleeding profusely I was probably fine. He knows better, so he took care of me and made sure I was truly okay.

Despite sliding across pavement on my side, and despite the bruises and scrapes I received, my bike and my clothes survived quite nicely.  I can't believe with as much damage as my knee took that my jeans didn't even scuff, much less rip. They were dusty, and that's about it. My shoes look perfect except for, oddly enough, the inside of the tongue on the left shoe.  So weird!  How in the world did I tear the INSIDE of my shoe? Pure talent, readers.  Pure talent. And there is a very itty bitty spot on the sleeve of my jacket that has a scuff. And Molly handled the crash very well too. Her previous owners had installed crash pegs on her side to protect the body and the engine in the event of a crash.  I can now attest that they worked wonders!  Not a single scratch, scuff or dent on the body or engine.  My windshield is scuffed on the side, and the crash peg is scraped and scuffed pretty good, but otherwise the only real damage was to the shift lever, the peg of which snapped off.  But I ordered the replacement today and by the time I receive it and get it installed I should be healed up enough to get back out on the road for some more practice!  I should probably focus on my turns, don't you think?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I've Got My Eye On You

Both of them, actually.  And they can SEE you! I had my LASIK surgery done a week ago, and I am so freaking happy with the results.  It's so amazing to be able to see clearly without contacts or glasses.  I just had my second follow-up vision appointment and can now boast 20/20 vision!  Before I had the surgery, my left eye was 20/400 and my right eye was 20/600.  Yes, that bad. I never expected them to be able to get my vision this good.  I thought for sure it would improve my vision, but that I'd still need a light prescription or something.  And of course I had all these doomsday imaginings of something horrible going wrong and ended up blinded or horribly disfigured and with worse vision than before I went in. 

If you've ever looked for information online for LASIK, you've probably seen some of the terrible websites out there whose sole purpose is to scare people away from the surgery. Oh, the pictures they post of surgeries gone wrong.  *shudder* I have to admit that those sites really made me doubt the wisdom of having the procedure done.  But thankfully I was an excellent candidate for the surgery, I have a great optometrist, and he recommended a fantastic, proven surgeon for the procedure. My eyes have healed wonderfully, my vision is great, and I am so, so happy I finally bit the bullet and was brave enough to have it done. Woohoo!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

If at First You Don't Succeed...

...Stomp your feet, scream, and maybe even cry. Go ahead, have a full blown tantrum if you must.  I'll wait.
I'm sad to say that I am NOT exactly a natural at learning to ride my new bike.  You can't imagine how many times I've wished that I had learned to drive a manual transmission when I was younger! I should have kept trying until I got it and not given up on it.  I don't like not being good at something, so it's been a blow to my pride to have to keep trying, and trying, and trying on this motorcycle.  Sometimes I can't even get it in first gear without stalling out.  Why?  Because I forget that I have to use the clutch.  Oops.  But honestly, I'm doing good to remember that I have to actually put it in gear in the first place.  Although technically I have to do that in my car too, it's just that in Roxie (my totally awesome Scion xA) I go from Park to Drive. 

I made an attempt to drive my bike around the neighborhood Friday afternoon by myself.  Eek!  You can't even imagine how nervous I was.  I just knew I was either going to crash it on my way to the safe loop area where I could practice without worrying about much traffic, or I was going to get it out there and then somehow mess up and not be able to get it back home.  I'd never taken the bike out on my own before!  Sadly, my fervent hopes that it would turn out to be a wonderful jaunt and that I would finally "get it" and be a pro rider before I returned home were quickly dashed. 

I lost count of the number of times I stalled out just trying to get it out of my driveway.  That whole "let off the clutch slowly while giving it just the right amount of throttle at just the right time" is pretty tricky.  I did eventually jerk and buck my way down the street to the stop sign.  But this was where my real worries lay.  I had to be able to go from a stop to a start WHILE turning, and immediately go over a speed bump, after which was another immediate turn in the opposite direction.  The maneuvering this requires is difficult enough for me, but when you add in the fact that there is traffic coming off the highway in one direction, plus traffic leaving a neighboring development coming from the other as well, it really got me worked up.  Did I mention I was turning left, so I had to cross both lanes of traffic?  Eeek!

I did manage to get through that intersection, but just barely.  I was still having trouble with trying to do a smooth take-off, and I felt like I was completely out of control.  Not a good thing when on a motorcycle! And by that time I was so frazzled my nerves were shot.  I couldn't make that second turn in time, and decided that was my cue to just turn around and head back home.  It was pretty sad that I only got out on the bike for about a quarter mile, and that I didn't drive it very well while I was doing it.  But I've got to say, considering how nervous I am about learning to ride a motorcycle, and considering I never could get the hang of driving a manual transmission when I was younger, I actually didn't do all that badly.  I may not be fearless, but the fact that I got on the bike on my own in the first place is a really big accomplishment.  I wanted so badly to find a good excuse not to go out.  While it didn't have the results I'd hoped for, I did have to pat myself on the back for trying and for making it through the intersection, even if I didn't get it back into that other neighborhood.  It may have been an ugly ride, but I didn't crash, I didn't drop the bike, and I didn't even cry!  I did stomp my feet a few times and my language was probably a bit colorful, but all in all it wasn't too bad.

I'm just going to have to keep at it and practice, practice, practice!  I like to imagine that one day I'll go out and everything will easily fall into place and then I'll return home lighthearted and carefree and I'll be able to laugh at my silly fears and wonder why in the world I ever thought learning to ride a motorcycle would be so difficult.  Hahaha!  (That's me practicing my lighthearted laughter.)

Images found here and here.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I Bought a Motorcycle!

Dear Readers, meet Molly! My DH and I have been checking out Craigslist to try to find a small bike that would fit me and be a good choice for someone who is new to riding a motorcycle.  He found this one for sale in western North Carolina, and after seeing the pictures and researching it online, I was in love! She is a 2002 Suzuki SV650 (naked).  I was pretty worried that a 650 would be way too big of an engine for a newbie like me.  I could imagine myself accidentally giving it too much throttle and it taking off like a rocket and leaving me behind! But the many, many reviews I found for it all praised it highly, and the website Best Beginner Motorcycles even recommended it for beginners.  Normally much smaller bikes like the 250s are recommended as safest for beginner riders. 

Luckily for me, this bike is nice and lightweight, much like a sport bike, but has a lot of the styling and comfort like a cruiser.  I'm not a fan of the "crotch rockets" where you lean forward on your arms and have your rear end up in the air.  The SV650 does have the foot pegs farther back than a cruiser so your knees remain bent, but it's still a fairly upright seating position.  Being lightweight (less than 400 pounds) makes it much easier to maneuver and control, but the bigger engine will ensure that I don't outgrow it immediately after learning how to ride.  The top speed on most 250 machines is about 65mph.  The SV650 is about 125mph. I have no plans to EVER go that fast, even in my car, so I don't need it to go that fast.  But if I ever need to get on the interstate and keep up with traffic in a 70mph zone, I'll be able to do so without blowing the engine.

Getting Molly home was quite an ordeal.  The location was about 5 1/2 hours from where I live, and the weather was very cold (low 30s with wind chills much lower) and it rained the entire time.  DH and my dad and I drove up there in my car to check it out and see if I liked it.  Of course I can't actually RIDE it, so I just sat on it to test the fit and see if I liked the way it felt.  We looked it over and checked out the mechanics, and then my husband took it for a spin to see if it felt like it ran okay.  It did, and I still loved it, so I bought it!  At that point we had to get it home.  My husband rode it home, in the freezing rain, on a ride that in a car would have taken about 3 1/2 hours.  We were stopping at my parents' house for the night before coming back home the next morning.  Since the weather was so bad, we had to make a LOT of stops so DH could thaw out and the parts of his riding gear that weren't waterproof.  We also couldn't go as fast as we normally might have because the bike hadn't been ridden in a year, so it wasn't quite up to par.  Turns out the spark plugs needed to be replaced, and DH spent most of the ride with the bike only firing on one piston, which meant it had maybe half the power that it should have.  Not fun for riding on the interstate, at night, in the freezing rain! That 3 1/2 hour trip ended up taking 8 grueling hours. 

Not being very mechanically inclined, I didn't really know what might be wrong with Molly, and I was worried that I'd bought a lemon and that it was going to cost a fortune to fix her.  Thankfully all it took was two little spark plugs and she was good to go!  Chris and my dad changed them the next morning and then DH even changed the oil and oil filter too, just for good measure.  Needless to say, the ride home from my parents' house was much more enjoyable!  Warmer, little to no rain, and a fun bike with a good engine.  He had a great time getting it back to our house, and I'm glad to know he enjoys the bike so much.  It means it was a good buy and that once I learn to ride and can feel comfortable and confident on it, I'll be able to have some fun too!

I love her bright yellow paint! She looks like a bumble bee, which is sort of how she came to be named Molly.  I thought I'd name her something that referred to her marvelous and snazzy coloring, but couldn't think of anything about bees that didn't sound entirely stupid.  Some people will think it's silly enough to name her at all.  But as I was thinking, the phrase "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" passed through my mind.  I thought, "Aha!  Muhammad Ali! M. Ali...Mali...Molly!"  And there you go.  A beautiful, fun bike that I still need to learn how to ride.  I guess I have no choice but to learn how to work a manual transmission now.  It's going to be a long, bumpy ride!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Biker Babe in the Making

Okay, so the "babe" part is open to interpretation. But still.

I had my second lesson on the motorcycle today. This time I was on Darling Husband's Honda 919. I was really nervous to try to ride on this thing since it's a sport touring bike and can REALLY go super fast in a hurray. I could see myself trying to ease onto the throttle and still managing to shoot down the road like a rocket. Thankfully when I tested the throttle sensitivity while in neutral I saw that it would be possible to still be very gentle with it. I did really well! Well, considering it was ME on it. I got up to 20 miles an hour this time. Woohoo! That's double the speed I was willing to go when I first tried out my mom's bike. I even shifted into 2nd gear a couple times! Pretty soon I might be able to pass those little mopeds that are always blocking traffic.

Technically you're not supposed to ride with a passenger until you are very well trained on a bike and can do so without endangering yourself or the other person. Bikes handle a lot differently when you have a passenger! But I'm still too scared to ride without him behind me telling me what to do and when, in case I panic and forget what to do! It's only further proof of how fearless he is that he was willing to ride with me at the helm.

But the part that I'm most proud of? I TURNED! FOUR TIMES! And I did it well each time. It was so thrilling to be able to do it. I was giggling like a schoolgirl and laughing out loud with glee. I was so proud of myself. :) And no freaking out this time - no tears or panic. I wonder if I'm the only one who is so scared of trying to turn on a motorcycle. I don't even think about it when I'm on a bicycle, but for some reason it really intimidates me to try doing the same thing on a motorcycle.

I made sure to stop while I was ahead this time instead of pushing it until I got overwhelmed. Every little step is really helping to build my confidence. I never thought I'd be able to handle DH's bike since it is so sporty and fast. But it's nice and light and narrower than my mom's bike, so that actually made it pretty easy to handle. I'm starting to understand why he loves it so much on twisty, winding roads!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Motorcycle Mayhem, Part II

I just got my motorcycle permit!  Woohoo!  Look at me, I'm a wild woman. :)  Now I just have to put it to good use and try another bout on the bike. I'm going to be so excited if I can actually learn how to ride a motorcycle.  Of course having to shell out the money to eventually buy a bike and for the insurance won't be as fun, but it will be a necessary evil eventually. There is a motorcycle riding class I'm looking into that a friend took a few years ago and really enjoyed. He took the intermediate course, but I'd need to start from the very bottom!  They stress safety a lot, which I really like.  He said it even makes him drive his car more defensively. 

I'm on a roll with this "taking on the world" thing I started recently.  I've got my eye mapping and eye exam scheduled for this Thursday for my LASIK.  I've been out of my contacts for nearly 2 weeks in preparation for it.  And I should be able to have the surgery done at the end of February.  Hooray, no more contacts or glasses!  That's going to be especially appealing after being stuck in my glasses for so many weeks.  I was also finally able to decide on a design for a tattoo, and I have a friend who knows a tattoo artist from a local shop who is going to give us a great deal on tattoos.  So now I'm even going to get a tattoo!  Two, actually.  I've thought about getting one for several years now, but never seriously considered it because I just couldn't decide on what to get and where to get it.  I don't want to have something I'm going to regret in a few years, or something that won't be relevant to me in 30 to 50 years.

So here I am, tackling tattoos, LASIK, and motorcycles all in a short span of time.  If they weren't things I'd thought about and wanted for several years I'd be worried I might be having a mid-life crisis. I told my friend that if I come home with a red convertible sports car she needs to plan an intervention. :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cozy Comfort

Because sometimes sleeping on the pillows just isn't good enough.

(That's one of my Chihuahuas, Gypsy, snuggling between two pillows.)