"Any arbitrary turn along the way and I would be elsewhere; I would be different." ~ Frances Mayes

After losing 112 pounds in almost a year and a half, I have come to realize how very much I was missing. I may be Late to the Party, but I am doing my best to catch up in my own unique way!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Confession Friday - I "HEART" Gordon Ramsay

Gordon Ramsay screams; he yells, he throws plates, he kicks garbage cans, he belittles wannabe head chefs.  He is a food snob to the nth degree.  He rides motorcycles.  He almost had a career as a professional soccer player until injuries sidelined him.  His use of curse words is notorious and he uses them like over-seasoning his food. He sports a killer British accent.  He cooks - really, really well.  He owns restaurants, lots and lots of restaurants, award winning establishments.  His face is craggy, manly, weathered and he looks older than his 44 years of age, at least to me.  But most of all.......


Gordon Ramsay lives large.  I think the Dos Equis beer "most interesting man in the world" ads were actually modeled on Gordon Ramsay!  Even through the television screen, you can feel the energy pulsate when he enters the room.  He seems to be one of those people that has a tremendous life force.  I happened to catch him on HSN (Home Shopping Network) for the debut of his cooking items with them.  It seemed as though he could hardly tolerate hawking his wares to people he knew couldn't cook a decent meal if their lives depended on it.  The old phrase "nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs" perfectly describes his HSN debut, only Gordon Ramsay's cat personality is that of a mountain lion or panther.  I kept waiting for him to tell a caller "Bloody hell, piss off!"

He is married with 4 children.  I hope he is faithful to his wife and kids; I have no doubt he loves them, but the faithful part I'm not so sure about.  I also think that under the gruff exterior lies a generous heart.  In his  shows, Hell's Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares, and the one that premiered Tuesday night - Master Chef, he shows his tender, giving side.  Was I the only one this week watching Hell's Kitchen that saw him get misty-eyed when he introduced the family members of the four remaining contestants who had come to visit for a short while? 

All I am saying is that even with my fear of motorcycles, Gordon Ramsay can give me a ride on the back of his anytime.  God, I love a man that can cook!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A new addition to the blog - What's in a Word?

I love words, or rather, the SOUND that certain words make and the mental snapshots that a single word can bring to the imagination.  I like the combination of words, the richness of language and how some words and phrases roll so easily off the tongue.  Some words are like dessert....rich and full and worth savoring.

“Words are only postage stamps delivering the object for you to unwrap” ~ George Bernard Shaw

So, with that said, I am announcing that each month I will feature "My Word of the Month."  There are some scrapbooking internet divas that pick one single, solitary word for an entire year to feature in their layout pages or in their journaling.  It seems to me that a year is an awful long time to stick with just one word since there are so many to choose from!  Ten words for a decade? 25 words for a quarter of a century?  Either they are extremely limited in their vocabulary or decidely restrictive in choosing.  For me, I would get bored thinking about the same word for 365 days.  I simply cannot be faithful to one word for that long a time.  In thinking about it, I may have a problem concentrating on a word for even a 30 day stretch, so understand that I may pontificate (now there's a word to chew on) on more than one word every month.  The way I see it, this is my blog and I have no hard and fast rules about what I write about, so there!

Be on the lookout for my word for August.  And, yes, this was a terrible, blatant tease to build some anticipation. 

Stay tuned......

Friday, July 23, 2010

Confession Friday - Good Will to Men

My Uncle Jack, God rest his soul, had a saying that has become a mainstay in our family.  When my Aunt Etta would go on a shopping trip and come home with her bags, she would explain to Jack what she bought was discounted on sale, to which he would respond, "Etta, we can't afford to save money."  Ed has since taken up the mantle of keeping Uncle Jack's phrase going.  But recently, he says it less and less because I have discovered selling on Ebay.  Ed, despite being skeptical at first about what people will buy on Ebay, likes making a profit and the whole escapade of the ZhuZhu pets (another story to be saved for a later day) changed his outlook. Of course, to sell on Ebay, one must have items to list.  And that, my dear friends, is what I have to confess today - I am totally hooked on  finding items that I pay pennies for to resell or keep it for myself.

It all started with junk shops when I was a teenager.  I still own a marvelous old rocking chair that I bought for $5 at a little junk store about 2 blocks from my childhood home the summer before I left for my freshman year at college.  I painted it an Irish kelly green and it has traveled with me throughout my adult life.  The green paint has long been stripped, its beautiful wood once more restored.  That rocking chair has rocked my three babies to sleep and grandbabies, too.  The veneer on the curved seat needs some repair and it creaks like something that ancient should when rocked, but I love that old rocker and cannot part with it.   Little did I know when I first saw that dusty old chair and shelled out my hard earned five bucks that I had started a life-long treasure hunt.

Although I still love junk stores, I found something even better (and cheaper) for my treasure-seeking soul - YARD SALES.  Oh, sweet bliss, yard sales.  There is nothing quite like the rapid beating of my heart  in seeing an item that I want and then asking the owner if they will take less.  Ed has been known to slink away as if he is not connected to me in any fashion when I bargain over a 50 cent item.  He cannot understand the art of negotiation that drives me to ask, "Will you take a quarter for that?"  If the item is a quarter, I offer 10 cents.  I drive a hard bargain.  And I usually get my way.  You wouldn't believe the items with which I have decorated my home that came straight from somebody's driveway or garage.  Lovely pictures, including a couple of Thomas Kincaid Collector's Club framed prints ($4), a huge print for the dining room that I had priced at about $300, double matted, wonderful frame ($10), Halloween, Easter and Christmas decorations, a beautiful white metal bedside table with glass tabletop ($10), decorative bowls worth $16 to $40 ($2 to $4 each), vintage blow-mold 1960's tabletop Santa worth about $20 (50 cents), vintage blow-mold Halloween cat on jack-o-lantern ($1), Yankee Candle products, books, movies, games, puzzles...... I could go on and on.

With the recent weight loss, I have been drawn back to the second-hand shops, particularly Good Will.  I can find transition clothes, some with the tags still on them, to tide me over till I reach my final goal weight.  I simply can't afford to replace my wardrobe every few months.  But clothes are not the only thing Good Will sells.  They have housewares and decorative items, too.  It is a gigantic year round yard sale, only air conditioned or heated and open on rainy days, everyday and the merchandise turns over almost every week.  A treasure hunter's heaven. Just last Friday I discovered a Good Will on the ritzy side of the city.  Be still my heart!  Yesterday, less than a week later, I went back and I hit paydirt!  A Lenox china Santa Claus teapot, not a scratch on it, original price tag of $58 still attached, for $12.  Anything comparable on Ebay sells for about $60.  A Noble Excellence (Napa Valley pattern) cracker server bowl for $5.  On Replacements.com it sells for $60!  Can you stand it? There were other items I had to leave there....my budget only allows for so much frivolity. The good news is that every Tuesday is Senior Citizens Day and I can get a 25% discount!  I have never been so happy to be over 55. 

Two of my sisters and I have a tradition: we meet once a year for a long weekend in the summer which includes the exchanging of Christmas gifts.  But, aha, these are not just ordinary Christmas gifts, oh, no.  These must be purchased either at giant discounts from a store or must come from a thrift store or, more likely than not, a yard sale.  We slowly unwrap our gifts one at a time, oohing and aahhing over the reveal and then the giver has to tell what the purchase price was.  The cheaper the price, the greater the treasure, the bigger the accolades.  We practically swoon over the cheapness!  We are the Queens of Cheap! What a hoot we have!  We then spend the whole entire next year going to yard sales and thrift stores hunting for cheap gifts of value (is that an oxymoron?) for each other.  It is the most fun when I can score an item that I know my sisters will love.

So in the spirit of Christmas in July, as well as the quickly approaching joyous summer Noel celebration with my sisters, I wish you all peace on earth, Good Will to (wo)men - maybe I will see you there on Tuesday!  Just don't get in my way when I spy that treasure!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

She's a Grand Old Dame

At my job, I walk where Presidents and Governors and statesmen and all manners of people from Georgia, some famous, some not so much, have walked.  I love this building.  I think of it as a grand old dame, grand enough for the National Register of Historic Places and to be a National Historic Landmark.  She is a refined, aging lady and is one hundred and twenty-one years old,  having been completed in 1889.  Old enough to have a long and colorful history, she is yet relevant enough that history is still being made within her four walls.

She is beautiful with columns throughout and floors made of marble from Pickens County, Georgia.  (Marble is still produced there to this day.)  Old oak paneling still graces the offices and rooms.  Elevators, lights that used a combo of gas and electricity, and central steam heat made it ahead of its time early on.  There are numerous vaults, original to the building, with walls that are three feet thick, but they no longer store documents and money, but are used for other purposes like the kitchen area in my office suite. There are two beautiful grand staircases and a three story atrium, as well as a rotunda.  The exterior of the dome is gilded with gold leaf from the North Georgia Mountains.  The grounds are a lush green grass with statues of  prominent Georgian figures, whose historical significance is remembered by only the most ardent Georgia history scholars. Upon the dome, Miss Freedom (no, not Miss Liberty, even though a replica of the Statue of Liberty stands on the grounds) sits atop the dome, her lamp of freedom in her hand.  Faithfully she sits, guiding the way and you can see her and her golden home as you drive through Atlanta on I-75/85. 

By now most of you know I am talking about the Georgia State Capitol building.  During the times that the legislature is in session, there is an energy that courses through these stone halls, and the sounds of politics, bill-making, and pressing matters literally fill the air.  But during the spring and summer months, there is a quietness that echoes and speaks of history, tradition, loyalty and service.  It is the time that I can see the Grand Old Dame for what she is and for what she stands. This is the place that I spend most of my waking day, more than at home if you don't count sleeping. Sometimes I take things for granted. It is just human nature. Our routines become monotonous and rote. So it is with my coming into this building daily. I often forget how fortunate I am to work at such a place, to be among those that have in the past or present called this Capitol part of their lives. 

Every once in a while it is nice to look at our everyday life and see how unique it can be if we just make it so.  Even the mundane can look different through a new perspective.  So here's my challenge for today: take a look around and share with me a part of your daily routine that you may have taken for granted that may be pretty inspiring or unusual or entertaining! 

Oh, and one more thing.....I invite you to come visit the Georgia State Capitol and see the Grand Old Dame for yourself!


Friday, July 16, 2010

Confession Friday - A career of my very own

If you read my profile on this blog, you will see that I ask the question "What will I be when I grow up?"  I am almost 58 years old and that question remains to be answered!  I can tell you what I THINK I want to be, at least what I want to be on this given day.  Don't hold me responsible because what I THINK I want to do with the rest of my life could all change tomorrow.

Drum roll, please:  Wait for it....wait for it.  TaDa!  I want to be a playwright or a screenplay writer! 

Are any of you familiar with the movie "Something's Gotta Give"?  The one where Diane Keaton is a playwright and has an affair with Jack Nickolson?  That's the type of playwright I want to be.  No, I don't want to have a fling with Jack Nicholson (perish the thought!) but I do want to take real life situations and scenarios, however awkward,  and turn them into something humorous and witty that people would spend good money on a ticket to come watch a bunch of actors on stage or screen act out my words.  My life supplies a never-ending supply of material.

For example, here is something that really happened to me just last year:

Setting: Outer office of liver specialist doctor.  I am there for a follow-up visit and blood test after a scan at local hospital to make sure that everything is copasetic and I won't die or fry my kidneys when I re-start taking my RA meds.  Have already been this day to my Primary Care doctor who sent me to my Hematoligist who has, in turn,  sent me to this doctor.

I enter the office.  It is just after lunch time and there are no patients in the waiting area.  I approach the window.  Window opens.  Office staff of three are present.  They look at me like I have 2 heads.

Office girl:  (sighs)  May I help you?

Me:  (Cheerfully) Yes, I am here to get a blood test.  I  had this procedure done at the hospital and had to sign papers agreeing to a follow-up with my doctors before I could have it done.  If I don't, I run the risk of  killing my kidneys if I take my RA meds. I really don't want to do that so here I am!

Office girl:  (Monotone) You need to go to the hospital for that.

Me:  No..... I was told to come here.

Office girl:  No....we have never heard of this.  Who sent you?

Me: The hematologist, Dr. X. 

Office girl: (Annoyed) We don't have you down for an appointment. You need to go to your Primary Care.

Me: Been there. ..they sent me to Dr.X first.

Office girl: Who sent you?

Me:  Dr. X via Dr. Y via the hospital.

Office girl:  Who at the hospital said this?

Me:  I am not sure of the technician's name.

Office girl:  (REALLY ANNOYED)  You need to find out.

Me: (getting my cell phone out) (Voice raised)  You know, I really have been given the runaround here.  I am overdue for my RA meds.  I really like being able to walk and not be crippled.  And I am really not into frying my kidneys. 

I punch in the number for the Primary Care doctor.  I get the answering machine.  After all, it is just after lunch time.
I punch in  the number for the Hematologist.  I get the answering machine.  After all, it is just after lunch time.
I turn back to the Office girl.

Me:  Do you have the number for the hospital?

Office girl: (Rolling her eyes) (BIG sigh).  It is  XXX-555-1111.

I VIOLENTLY punch in the hospital number:  Get main line receptionist.  She transfers me to the XRay, CT scan, whatever department.  I explain the scenrio that I am trapped in.  What luck!  I talk to the technician who then talks to the Office Girl.  OG hangs up.   She looks at me poker-faced.

Me:  Ok, then,  we have that all cleared up!

Office Girl:  Ms. Norwood, we will be glad to make an appointment for you to get your bloodwork done.

Me:  But I'm here now. What part of that do you not understand?

Office girl:  Well, you can always go back to your Primary Care doctor.

Me:  WHAT?  But they sent me to Dr.X who sent me to you!

Office Girl:  Ms. Norwood, then when do you want to make the appointment?

Me:  You're joking, right?

Office Girl: No.  No, I'm not.

At this point, I have out of body experience as I move slightly to the right of the window and proceed to bang my forehead against the wall.  Literally.  Painfully.  Office girl's jaw drops.  Other office staff immediately stop activity to stare at crazy lady.  I stop banging my head as I realize this is majorly hurting both my head and my cause.  Step back from wall and draw back arm to throw cell phone at adjacent wall.  Really.  Just like a major league baseball pitcher. Decide I will a) destroy my phone and I don't have the money to replace it, b) will have to pay for repair to the wall, c) police will be called and I will be either arrested or have mental evaluation done. So I lower arm and stare at Office Girl, who seems visibly shaken.


Office Staff is  - uh - uncomfortable, shall we say.  Look at each other in slow motion and eyes wide.

Office Girl:  (Spoken rapidly) Let me check to see if the lab technician can see you now, Ms. Norwood.

Me: (cheerfully and perky)  That would be wonderful!  Thank you so much!

Scene change:  Doctor's lab. I am sitting blissfully in lab chair, arm outstretched with lab tech very, VERY carefully poking needle into the crook of my elbow. I look into camera and smile.  Fade out.

And to think I have hundreds situations I can write into scripts.  It's almost frightening, isn't it?

So screenwriter/playwright is the Career of the DAY.   But just like the weather, that changes every few days or hours or minutes.  I'll keep you posted on other career ideas.  Maybe you have one I haven't thought of.  I'm taking ideas!  Just leave a comment and let me know what YOU think I should do to have a career of my very own.....

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Heart Stones

One of the sweetest moments I have experienced lately is when the youngest of the Fab 5, Cale, came to me, one fist clenched tightly.  Urgently he tugged on my shirt and announced, "Look, PamPam, I have something for you," and thrust his arm upwards.  Unfurling his fingers, there in the palm of his sweaty, dirty little hand lay a gray, unassuming rock.  "It's a heart," he proudly announced.

Heart-shaped stones can be found in rocky areas, on beaches, just about anywhere rocks are.  As they are described in the book jacket for author and photographer Josie Iselin's book appropriately named Heart Stones:  "A heart stone is one of nature's gifts. Heart stones are not rare or precious in the typical sense--a good scour of a beach with any stones at all will usually turn up one or two heart-shaped stones. But heart stones, lifted from their obscurity, with all of their cracks and blemishes, lopsided and imperfect, are simply the best find....".

But to be "lifted from their obscurity", they have to be found.  To find, we have to look.  Open our eyes. Take the time to see things that are mundane and uninteresting and find the unique and unusual in them.  We have all probably walked over many heart stones in our lives.  Sometimes we are too busy and rushed looking at what is ahead of us to be able to concentrate on what may be right under our nose. How much do we miss simply because we don't see the small details?

Heart stones are not very valuable on their own merits.  But when a little boy imparts it as a love offering, it becomes the most precious of materials, worth more than any silver or gold to a grandmother's heart. My heart stone lies safely in the drawer with all my jewelry and I often pick it up and rub it between my finger and thumb, relishing its roughness, remembering the sweetness and poignancy of that moment. And all because one little boy saw the beauty in a dull, gray stone.

Friday, July 9, 2010

I Confess

I have this obsession with Jeeps.  Yes, you read correctly - Jeeps.  Jeep Wranglers to be exact.  A red or green one, preferrably red.  Complete with rollbars, detachable canvas soft-top, extra tire on the back, four-wheel drive and requisite Black Lab named Boo in the back. 

It is the car of my alternative world.  I imagine myself at the wheel, without the canvas soft-top.  I have on my jeans or cargo pants, hiking boots, and since it is autumn in this picture in my head, an awesome baggy sweatshirt - probably LL Bean , hair swept up, and 60 pounds lighter, possibly 20 years younger.

I am on my way to my mountain cabin, having been to the little town in the valley on my once a month sojourn to get groceries, toiletries and art supplies, books, whatever I am into at that given time.  Ed is waiting at the cabin for me with a cup of hot coffee.  There are the makings of that night's fire in the stone fireplace, ready for the lit match to bring it to life.  Boo gets excited as we turn the curve and go down the really L-O-N-G driveway to the cabin and starts wagging his tail insanely fast, just as the panoramic mountain view fills up the windshield and the stones grind as I brake in front of the cabin.

But back to the Jeep......it has a name, like Jezebel or Jessie or Wanda.  It could stand a good wash, but it's a Jeep, for Pete's sake, and it can't be too clean or it loses its appeal.  Jeeps are not supposed to be immaculate; if they are too clean, then...well.... what's the point?  There is a chain with a medallion hanging from the rearview mirror that swings back and forth, and every once in a while I catch it in my hand just to feel the warmth of the afternoon in the metal.  There's a GPS in the glove compartment, in case I need it in my mountain road ramblings, along with a road map.  The hiking backpack is in the back.  Oh, and the plaid blanket for the winter in case of emergencies.

This Jeep is mine. It is my friend and traveling companion.  I trust it to get me from point A to point B and all the places in-between.  It represents independence and fun and adventure.

I go to this alternative world in my mind a lot - A LOT! Hey, you're there now, too, right? Go ahead, you can confess it!

Confession Fridays

Today I am beginning a new feature.  I will try....emphasis on TRY....to confess to something every week, something you may know about me, maybe you don't.  And maybe you care and maybe you don't.  But, hey, I like this form of therapy, so indulge me!  So welcome to "Confession Fridays" and have some laughs on my account!  And maybe you will have some things to confess to, too.  Hopefully, I will have installment one ready today, but certainly by tonight.  Hope you have as much fun reading as I have writing!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

15 Minutes of Fame

Andy Warhol, the artist, once said, "In the future everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes.".  My fifteen minutes arrived today.  Although, I am sure I will not be WORLD famous, I have accomplished a wee bit of notoriety in today's Atlanta Journal Constitution.  Please humor me in letting me share this article:

Current Weight: 211 pounds

Pounds lost: 95 pounds

Height: 5 feet, 7 inches

How long she’s kept it off: She started Weight Watchers in July 2009. “I am two-thirds of the way,” Norwood said. “I try to think of it in five- or 10- pound increments.”
Personal life: Norwood and her husband, Ed, have three children and five grandchildren. “We have been married for 38 years and he has loved me through thick and thin, literally,” she said. “I am very fortunate to have him care so much about me.” She works as an administrative assistant in the Georgia House of Representatives and lives in Sharpsburg.
Turning point: “On June 2009, I met my sisters in Nashville; I hadn't seen my sister from Memphis in 1-1/2 years,” she said. “She is five feet and had lost 60 plus pounds on the Weight Watchers program and had started exercising. The transformation was unbelievable. I promised her that day that I would go to a meeting. I went all right, kicking and screaming all the way." She joined that week.
Diet plan: She has oatmeal or yogurt with shredded wheat for breakfast. Lunch is a frozen meal and dinner is lean protein, vegetables and a salad.
Exercise routine: Her routine includes Richard Simmons DVDs, Nordic Poles and walking. “I've just added hiking to my routine for fun,” she said.
Biggest challenge: “My rheumatoid arthritis and the medicines I have had to take to keep that in control -- both are not always conducive to weight loss and exercise,” she said. “I am in a weight plateau right now because of a new medicine I take for RA. As frustrating as it can be, I just have to work through it.”
How life has changed: “Eight months ago I could hardly move; now I'm walking up to four miles a day. I exercise on the average five times a week and enjoy it,” she said. “Having R.A., I also had high blood pressure and was pre-diabetic. Today I am no longer taking blood pressure medication and I am no longer pre-diabetic. It truly is a lifestyle change; I feel like I am not facing an early death from the complications of obesity.”
Be an inspiration: If you've made positive changes in your diet and/or fitness routine and are happy with the results, please share your success with us. Include your e-mail address, a daytime phone number and before and after photos (by mail or JPEG). Write: Success Stories, c/o Holly Steel, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 223 Perimeter Center Parkway, Atlanta, GA, 30346-1301; or e-mail ajcsuccessstories@gmail.com.

This is my before picture:

This is my after picture:

To all of my family and friends - Thank you for all the support and love you have given me!  I love each and every one of you.
To those who happen to come across this blog and are just reading - Whatever your goals and aspirations are, believe me when I say, "YOU CAN DO IT!"  I am living proof!  As cliche as it may sound, if I can do it, anyone can!  So if your goal is weight loss, better health, going back to school, running a marathon, WHATEVER, go for it.  Never let the fear of failure hold you back.

Have you accomplished anything - small or large?  Please share!  If there are goals that you have set, but haven't started on them yet, share them too!  Find the courage to do what you want to do!

And now, I have had my 15 minutes of fame and I have enjoyed it.  On to the next part of the journey.....