Sunday, May 29, 2011

Curious Random Thoughts While Traveling

     I feel like I need to share some random thoughts with you all. They are not things that I necessarily share with my husband.
 I would probably just get the "Hmm!" grunt. One by one, they are not so interesting but maybe all together. You be the judge.

     My first thought is about the people along the highway who are holding signs up to get you to come to a certain business. Some of them are dressed in hilarious outfits, the Statue of Liberty comes to mind, and fruit costumes. Their job is to stand there and wave the sign around to get your attention. It looks hot and tiring. But it is a job, and in these days, I see more of them than I ever did.
A Banana? Really?

She's Still Smiling!


Then I wonder about the people who are always on the street corners with their Help the Homeless T-shirts, passing out a newspaper to anyone who gives a donation. Today, for some reason, I felt the need to donate, after so many years of not donating. Unfortunately, by the time I felt this need and started scrabbling through my bottomless purse, George had started up the car again and the person was left behind in our dust.  That bothered me. 
I can never find what I need in my purse.

     There are a lot of people out there with signs for needing work, needing money. A co-worker told me that she kept bottles of water in the car, along with packets of peanuts, trail mix, etc. She says her offerings were refused one time because the person wanted money.

Is this pre-road rage?
     Today as we were driving and I was thinking about all these things, a car came up on our right side and the driver gave us the finger. Two little harmless people minding their own business and we got the finger. The younger George would have given him the finger back and caught up with him but the current George slowed down and stayed well away from the offending car. We were afraid he might road rage us. And we didn't want our new car, Minnie, to get caught in the crossfire.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Don't Be a Sloth!

Slothful Behavior? Click here to see what shamed me into exercise....

     Once I heard that several people had named the sloth "Jeanne Kraus", I knew it was my time to get across the road, so to speak. Despite the fact that I have a full time teaching job and I write part time, I was not being all that I could be. Despite the fact that I tutor children and attend night meetings for parent training at school and writing trainings for me, I was holding back on Jeanne Kraus.

      My trainer, Arnaldo, got through the layers of Jeanne self-neglect in one visit. It was brutal. He had just returned from training in the National Guard for several months and now he thinks he is the boss of me. Our conversation was telling....

This is what other trainees look like.
     Arnaldo: How often did you do the exercises I left you with?              

     Me: (shame-facedly) None.

     Arnaldo: (not quite believing) You did not exercise once?

     Me: No. I meant to.

     I tried to blame it on the fact that I could not exercise without him there but he wasn't buying it. Then came the embarrassing part. He wanted me to pull out my exercise equipment. We couldn't find it. George, in his zest to clean out the garage for the new car, had buried my unused exercise equipment. It took 3 of us to find it, and then Arnaldo had to clean all the dust and dirt off it with a towel before we could start.

     Once we exercised and he wrote down everything I should do during the week he quizzed me on my eating habits. Also embarrassing.

     "Do you still go to Weight Watchers?" he asked, being careful not to look at my protruding stomach.      

     "No, we quit," I said.
     "Are you going to a nutritionist?" he wanted to know. I thought longingly of the JuJyfruits stashed in my office.
      "No, we're just winging it." That prompted him to sit down with a paper and pencil.

     He wanted to know what I eat all during the day. He wasn't happy with my answer for "What do you eat for breakfast?" - leftovers, but he especially did not like my snack choice - animal cookies.

Note that they contain calcium. I had considered them as being healthy.

     He was very happy to know we had protein powder; less happy when I told him I had not used it for 6 months.

     With my renewed determination, I will definitely work on taking better care of myself. I promised Arnaldo. But first I have to finish off these JuJyfruits. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Renewed Determination

Le Flamingo
Always have an Equipment Stand nearby!
This is what trainers make you do when they need a laugh.
My best side!

Not my best side!
     I'm not sure why but I seem to have some renewed determination that has come bubbling to the surface as of late. It has to do with eating more healthy and maybe even, gulp, exercising. Now, mind you I have not started acting on this renewed determination yet, but I am planning a future exercise event. Perhaps it was the close call of the world almost ending on Saturday. Perhaps it was when I was looking through old photos and realized that I used to have a flat, not fat, stomach.

     My trainer is back from his time in the National Guard so it seems like a good time to get some butt-kicking done. To do this, I brought out my exercise photos that he took of me last year to encourage me to exercise. It did not encourage anything except snide laughter when I put the pictures on FB. Just in case you need a pep talk, here they are...the prequel to my exercise program and some informative YouTube videos that I will be creating to help Baby Boomers everywhere.
Crouching Tiger Position: Note Bulging Biceps
This sucker is heavy!


Friday, May 20, 2011

Talking Trash

     There are so many oddities in my life. That's why I blog. To share these stories with others. Today I am thinking about Free-Cycling. If you have not heard about Free-Cycling, check it out. I think most communities have an online group devoted to the adage that "Your trash is someone else's treasure."

     I first got into free-cycling when I was looking for material for costumes for the Drama Club for school. I got some really nice boxes of donations for school that way. The idea is that you can post things you no longer want and give them to someone else. "Great idea!" I first thought. "I'll just take everything in George's office and put it in garbage bags and the first sucker who comes for it gets it. No returns."

      Well, it was a great idea but there was a set of rules included in Free-Cycling. You are not supposed to offer Crap as a wonderful item. True crap is supposed to be put in the trash. Doggone. There went my dreams of cleaned-out closets, the office and garage. And under the bed, whatever lurked there would have to stay there.

I could clean out all my closets and shelves!
Crap Not Wanted

Only Half Used!
     But it did seem as though Crap is truly in the eyes of the beholder. I have seen some ads that, to me, are not in the true spirit of the Free-Cycle network. For example a partially used tube of Vagisil is not anything I would ever want even for free but somebody did. 
Insert Breast For Best Results!

     Breast pumps are also a big (no pun intended) item and I am not sure I want something that was attached to someone else's boob. 
Wanted: One Winning Lottery Ticket!
     You can also request certain items. Some of them are definitely the pie-in-the-sky requests such as a new computer, guitar, workout equipment, and free ticket to concerts. Hah.
Urgent! Perfume Needed ASAP! Claustrophobic...

     Anyway the one I saw was for perfume. This lady was looking for some perfume, some very specific perfume. It seems she had run out of it and it is the only perfume she uses. She does not have enough money to buy new perfume and just can't go out of the house without it.

My advice to her: Stay in the house. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

One More Minnie Story Somewhat True

     I’m sad to say that the world has vandals in it. I'm positive that somewhere there is a nasty baseball bat-wielding psycho who is just waiting for an opportunity to go out and beat Minnie to a mini-pulp. Maybe slash her tires, give her a few good whacks in her private areas, and break her cute little sunroof. Or maybe kidnap her altogether. These thoughts have inhabited my head since we brought Minnie home.  The first night, I dreamed about a hoodlum with a bowling ball who attacked a row of minis lined up side by side. It wasn’t pretty.
Normal Chaos

     We decided to accomplish the impossible. Clean out the garage. This has never before been done in my family, park a car in an actual garage. The garage is our Crap Receptacle. Everything that we don’t know what to do with goes out in the garage. And when I say goes out, I mean goes out, sometimes hurled out into the nether regions of the garage from the kitchen door.
     Periodically, George and I clear a path and straighten up, organize the crap but it seems that in little more than a few days, it looks like a dump again. Oh, there might be a nice trail running through it, but as far as a car, Naaa!
Organized Chaos

 This makes the garage rather unsightly. It also means nothing bigger than a breadstick could fit into it with regularity. It seemed that our Minnie was doomed to be left out in the elements.
     Me: "George it is pretty small. Let's see if we can get it in the front door. "
     George: "Minnie will not fit in the front door." However, being that I am spacially challenged, he kindly showed me that indeed, Minnie was wider than our front door. Besides, she does not bend in the middle to go around the corner to get in the front. So that was out.

   Me: "OK let's put it on the back porch. It won't be totally inside but it will have a roof over it. We can just cut a bigger hole in the screen."
     This time, George just ignored me. He started hauling stuff out of the garage and seeing how he could arrange it to fit a Minnie in it. By the time I got home from work the next day, he showed me proudly what he had accomplished. It looked small but a driver such as George, with me in front guiding him, could park Minnie in the garage. Just in time. Tornado watch and lots of rain approaching. So today was the day.
     I go to the front of the garage and motion him to pull in. He pulls in but ignores my frantic signals to stop because he is flattening a trash can. We now have an oval trash can. Well, it turns out that the reason he stopped is because he has to get to exactly a certain part with a little side area cleared out so he can exit the car. Otherwise he will have to emerge through the sunroof.
There are better ways to get out of a car.

      So tonight Minnie is as snug as a bug in a rug. Tomorrow we will practice backing her out.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Car Hunting

     A while ago I mentioned on my blog that we had given up our leased car and were determined to live on one car, George's Toyota pick-up truck, almost as old as he is. The darn truck was a wonderful thing. It carted much furniture, bargains from flea markets and and household items more than I care to think about. And we lived with it for another 8 months or so, before finally deciding that we needed a new car.

     We didn't have too many requirements. It had to be economical on gas, within our price range, have a back seat for when we take my mother-in-law out, and had to be cute.

     We had looked endlessly at cars driving by, commenting on each one. "That one's cute!" I would say as one whizzed by us. "Um!" George would comment, leaving me to wonder if it was a positive or a negative grunt. We eliminated electric cars because of the expense.

     There were only 2 cars that made it to the "Cute" Category. One was a SMART car, which we had gotten familiar with in Illinois. My sister and her husband have a cute little red and black one  George had driven. back seat. Still, the SMART car lingered on in our hearts. Could we attach a little side car for George's mom? Or get 2 of them and hitch them together for trips to restaurants, etc.

     The other "Cute" car was the Mini Cooper which we had been looking at for ages. More and more of them were showing up on the streets and we each took turns pointing them out as we passed them. "Look, George, a mini!" We did not think they were within our price range though. We decided to look at them but were preparing ourselves for eventual disappointment.

     The day before Mother's Day, we had some unexpected free time and decided to start the car shopping process. We would go to 1 or 2 places and look at some of the economical cars they had to offer. Perhaps Honda and Hundai to begin with. But fate intervened. As we were driving down the road, we passed Mini after Mini. Someone or something was pushing us in the direction of the Mini-Cooper showroom.
      "George, we are getting a sign here. Go to the Mini-Cooper dealer. We need to be there today."

     I didn't have to argue with George. He too had recognized the power of the Mini. We started looking at the models, noting that they were indeed higher priced than the other cars that we were considering. I felt deflated. But we looked anyway. We were careful to tell our salesman that this was our first stop and we had not made a decision on the make of the car. He did not seem worried by that information.

     We looked at several really CUTE cars and then we found an ivory colored one that had 3500 miles on it, since it was a test driving model. There was a substantial discount on this car and we decided to test drive it. George drove it. He really liked it. So did I. If only it was a different color, but I was not going to let that bother me. We are not fond of white/off-white cars. We like bold colors. Our last car was pumpkin orange. You could see that sucker in a parking lot a mile away! That was a car.

     I asked our salesman if there were any others with mileage on them. He had one more. He led us all the way to the front of the lot and there was a Mini, a rusty pumpkin color. It was our car! Less miles on it, 1700, it still got the same discount.

Meet Minnie

Minnie's Face always looks happy. We're smiling too.
     George does not rave about things...ever... but he LOVES this car. It has a lot of things on it we don't know how to work so he is researching the book. As for me, I wait for him to show me how to do it. His biggest excitement so far? Driving around town he was getting 31.5 mpg. At the price of gas, that is pretty cool.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

On the Radio - Marketing

For Children: Homework and Study Skills
Baby Boomer Humor
For Children: All About ADHD

Since I have been promoting my books, I have done a number of radio interviews for my third book, "Wrinkles, Waistlines and Wet Pants." The first interview can be a little nerve-wracking, causing severe moments of self-doubt...

     1. What if I freeze up and don't say anthing at all? (not likely)
     2. What if I talk too much and take over the interview, drowning out the host? (more likely)
     3. What if we both keep talking at the same time and can't get the timing right? (pretty likely)
     4. What if I accidentally use a bad word on live radio? (quite likely)
     5. What if I screw up somehow on this end and the technology phone call does not work. What if all they get is fizz on the radio? (pretty likely)

     So you can see that in order for me to do a radio interview, I had to put aside a lot of self-doubt. And I am so glad I did. Radio interviews are really fun, just conversations where you and your books are the main subject of conversation.

     Some of the interviews have been more refined such as the ones I do for Anita Finley of Boomer Times in Florida. Anita is a positive and wonderful person who is really active. It is like meeting an old friend for lunch when I talk to her.

     Then there was my interview with Bulldog and the Dude, which had a totally different ambience to it. We spent most of the interview time talking about peeing and how to do it in public places.

     And then of course, I loved being interviewed on Magic 102.7, my favorite classic rock station that I listen to everyday. It was great talking to the very people that I listen to in my car in the morning on the way to work.

     Radio interviews have one other definite plus. You can be in your jammies, your hair sticking out all over, don't have to get dressed up for these interviews. You're not judged by how you look or act. On the radio, for all they know, I could be anyone. Wow. Cool!

Jeanne Kraus, Extraordinary Author

Jeanne Kraus, Superlative Interviews

Jeanne Kraus, Hot Writer

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ode To a Terrorist

Osama Bin Laden is dead, finally
many years hiding; a  terror refugee

How does it feel to brainwash
young men
teaching them killing
again and again.

To make them believe 
they should all want to die
in commandeered planes
hurtling down from the sky.

His money, his plans, his network of terror
his evil, his hate led to one fatal error.
Now it's your turn, Osama, 'tis true
Death's door has finally beckoned to you.

You've hidden from capture for so many years,
caused so much anger and sadness and tears.
Easier done when you sent boys to die-
Now we've silenced your last battle cry.

Were you brave, were you steady and ready to go?
Did you do yourself proud? Did you put on a show?
I think when you knew it was over for you
You weren't quite as brave as the rest of your crew.

One less terrorist for the world to fear;
a person who made himself known loud and clear
with mocking disdain and ego and greed
now faces Allah
Our hearts won't bleed.