Thursday, December 17, 2009

99 Things in 99 Days Deadline!

99 Things in 99 Days

I didn't complete my list. However I did accomplish a lot. So instead of focusing on what I didn't do, I'm going to list everything I did get done.

1. Get snowblower fixed - my roommate worked on it and had it running. Of course for the first snow, it didn't work. I'm still counting it.
2. Put bridesmaid dress on ebay - didn't sell.
3. Put jeans on ebay - sold!
4. Put black leather jacket on ebay - sold!
5. Put brown leather jacket on ebay - didn't sell, donated it.
6. Enter Silos and Smokestacks photo contest - received a second place and two honorable mentions.
7. Enter APTA photo contest - entered but haven't heard anything yet.
8. Plant buck rose - hope it survives the winter.
9. Take in yard waste.
10. Finish egg shaped flower garden.
11. Finish floor by front door.
12. Fill holes on kitchen wall.
13. Weed flower garden along south side of yard.
14. Weed flower garden along back of house.
15. Read about dishwasher maintenance.
16. Clean coils on refrigerator.
17. Weed garden by garage.
18. Mulch garden by garage.
19. Donate glasses.
20. Recycle ink jet cartridge.
21. Fill holes in living room.
22. Clean bathroom window.
23. Weather strip bathroom window.
24. Clean bedroom window.
25. Weather strip bedroom window.
26. Put light weight coat on ebay - didn't sell, donated it.
27. Divide geranium one.
28. Divide geranium two.
29. Move garden pots to shed.
30. Move hose to shed.
31. Buy place tickets to Phoenix.
32. Recycle cell phone battery.
33. Purchase cable hangers.
34. Install cable hangers.
35. Price new baseboards for kitchen.
36. Clean refrigerator.
37. Clean office window.
38. Weather strip office window.
39. Use up frozen veggies in freezer.
40. Hang window frame.
41. Replant geranium.
42. Clean sliding doors.
43. Put 3 mil wetsuit on ebay - didn't sell.
44. Exchange hood.
45. Borrow ladder from Eric and Lisa.
46. Remove front screen and install glass door.
47. Make path in back garden.
48. Change furnace filter - September.
49. Change furnace filter - November.
50. Empty gas from lawn mower.
51. Take cutting from house plants.
52. Buy birthday gift for dad.
53. Use Jax gift card.
54. Clean dishwasher.
55. Call Allstate about roadside coverage.
56. Call Mediacom about lowering cable/Internet bill - monthly bill reduced $50!!!!
57. Check on books at Firehouse books.
58. Get oil change.
59. Get car door fixed.
60. Clean intake vent in hallway and living room.
61. Clean rags at laundromat.
62. Clean out dehumidifier.
63. Clean off garage work bench.
64. Dust bathroom blinds.
65. Fix baseboard by tub.
66. Purchase Christmas gifts.
67. Go through 14 magazines and get rid of them.
68. Vacuum car.
69. Write AND send Christmas cards.
70. Scrape paint from laundry room window.
71. Clean laundry room windows.
72. Dispose of fire extinguisher.
73. Clean under refrigerator.
74. Clean under stove.
75. Get rid of matches.
76. Check with NWA about miles to Phoenix.

Some lessons learned regarding a list such as this. First, I typically do well with short term goals such as this. I find that the challenge keeps me motivated and focused. So even though I didn't complete my list in the designated 99 days, I will definitely be doing this again.

Second, I really need to put more thought into what goes on the list. Rather than hurrying to create the list in 30 minutes because I thought it would be cool to come up 99 things to do in 99 days on 9/9/09 and I started the list at about 11:20pm, I really need to think about what's important AND realistic.

Third, I should really try and group items together. Again, if I put more thought into the list to begin with, I should be able to group like items together so they're easier to find.

All in all, this was a good experience and I'm proud of what I've accomplished. Some of the items I completed have been bugging me for months (years) and it feels great to finally be done with them.

I think I will work on a list to start on January 1.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

4 Digits

I just made it below the $10,000 on my credit card debt!

Current credit card debt - $9055!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Snow Day!

I work for a transit system in the midwest and for the second time in the 18 years (omg that's depressing) that I've worked there, we didn't run service due to weather. So how did I spend my day off? Obviously I did a little shoveling, just enough to get cars in/out of the driveway. There's still a lot of snow to move but we're not snowed in. Most of the day, however, was spent cleaning. For some reason, my unexpected day off motivated me to tackle a couple of projects that I've been meaning to do. In fact, I can check off a few items from the To Do list.

Cleaned the refrigerator - pulled out shelves and washed them.
Cleaned refrigerator coils.
Cleaned under the refrigerator.
Cleaned the microwave.
Cleaned under the stove.
Cleaned the kitchen trash can lid.
Cleaned the intake vent covers in the hallway and living room (as in removed them and washed them.)
Swept the kitchen and bathroom.
Mopped the kitchen and bathroom.
Did laundry.

I probably got more done at home than I would have at work.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Turkey Trot

At about 11:30pm the night before Thanksgiving, I decide to see if there is a Turkey Trot close by. Sure enough, there's one at 8:30am the next morning. So I set my alarm for 6:00am so I have enough time to drive there (it's about a 35 minute drive) and get registered. My alarm went off at 6am and despite the fact that I slept like crap, I manage to get up, get ready and go. Now you need to keep in mind that I'm, a) not a morning person, b) really dislike being cold, c) not a morning person, yet somehow I still got my butt out of bed to go pay someone else so I can go run, in the cold, at 8:30am.

I arrive at registration with plenty of time. I fill out the form, check off the 5K, pay my money, get my number and timing chip and start to head out to claim my t-shirt. As I'm walking over to the t-shirt table, I notice the bottom of my number reads "5 Mile". WTF! It's a 5 mile run not a 5K. I head back to the registration to let them know I registered for the wrong race. They were very nice and explained that both the 5 mile and 2 mile races have the same start time and follow the same route for the first mile. All I need to do is simply follow the 2 mile route when the two races split. I also didn't need to worry about getting a new number, I can just use the one I already had for the 5 mile. The registration cost was the same for both so I wasn't out any money.

I left the registration desk again, feeling a little relieved that it was so easy but also a little disappointed because 2 miles wasn't really that long. I really wanted a nice 3.2 mile run. The 2 miler simply wouldn't burn enough calories to properly prepare for the upcoming food of the day.

So the race is about to start and I'm dutifully way in the back with the rest of the 2 milers. When the race starts, we all slowly make our way up to the start line and officially begin the race. After just under a mile, I can see up ahead that the two routes are about to split. The whole time I've been running I've been going back and forth in my mind about which race to follow. Finally when I get to the point where I have to chose, I look at the people who are running the 5 mile race and realize I can keep up with them. They weren't all hardcore runners. In fact, quite a few were walking.

My official time was 54:38. I just barely made it into the 10 minute mile range (10:56).

Sunday, November 22, 2009

99 Update

O.k., so I injured my freakin elbow a couple of months ago. I officially have "tennis elbow" in my right elbow and of course I'm right hand dominant. I'm not sure what caused the initial injury but I know I aggravated it more by doing a bunch of yard work and exterior painting in late September when I was all gung ho about completely the items on my to do list that required nice weather. With the injury, all activity came to a halt and I got to enjoy physical therapy again.

My elbow is finally starting to feel better and I'm slowly adding in more activity. However there are some items on my to do list that simply aren't going to get done by December 16 so I need to make some substitutions so I can still complete 99 items in 99 days. Even with modifying the list to accommodate my elbow, it will be a challenge to complete the list since I'm behind.

Here's what I have to remove from the current list do to injury and cold weather.

Paint trim around garage
Sand paint by front door
Finish painting around patio
Mulch flower bed along south fence (backyard)
Clean out shed
Add rock to flower bed along garage

Train for Run for the Roses 10K - This has come and gone and I didn't run. It had nothing to do with my injury.

Indoor items that likely won't get done because of injury.

Finish molding on kitchen cabinet
Install hooks in kitchen cabinet
Sand DVD cabinet
Paint DVD cabinet
Prep kitchen walls to be primed
Prime kitchen walls

These are items that aren't going to get done simply because it's not going to happen by Dec. 16.

Take sale items to Linda G.
Take plastic garden pots to Kay
Get carpets cleaned - I need to put this money elsewhere in December
Take and pass ACE certification exam - I'm not going to be ready by December

That leaves 17 new to do items that I need to have to maintain the 99 items in 99 days.

Some of the items on the list below are already completed however I'm going to go ahead and include them since they were things that I thought of after my original list was created. They became my "extra credit" items that I'm now going to use to maintain my grade. :)

1. Clean dishwasher and remove hard water buildup around door - done
2. Take garage and paint rags to laundry mat - done
3. Do a balance transfer from Chase to Citibank
4. Close Chase account
5. Clean out humidifier
6. Clean off garage work bench
7. Dust bathroom blinds
8. Call Allstate about roadside coverage
9. Call Mediacom about lowering bill or cancel
10. Hang photos from contest
11. Check with NWA to see if miles from PHX trip were credited to my account
12. Check with Firehouse Books about selling books
13. Get an oil change - done
14. Get car door fixed - done
15. Clean intake vent cover from hallway and living room
18. ebay - bridesmaid dress
19. ebay - jeans
20. ebay - black leather jacket
21. ebay - brown leather jacket
22. ebay - winter jacket
23. ebay - fall/spring jacket
24. ebay - 3 mil wetsuit
25. ebay - 7 mil wetsuit
26. Get an estimate to repair jewelry
27. Contact CSA about taking pictures
28. Contact Northern Prairie Chevre about pics
29. Contact Picket Fence Creamery about pics
30. Fix baseboard paint by tub
31. Get estimate for tree trimming/removal
32. Change furnace filter - November
33. Repot hibiscus
34. Repot croton
35. Repot philodendron
36. Purchase Christmas gifts
37. Go through 14 magazines and then get rid of them
38. Vacuum car
39. Do album of pics from mom
40. Finish study abroad scrapbook
41. Use gift certificate
42. Dust shelves in office
43. Write AND send Christmas cards
44. Scrape paint from laundry room windows
45. Clean laundry room windows
46. Spackle holes in bedroom closet
47. Dispose of fire extinguisher
48. Clean refrigerator coils
49. Clean refrigerator
50. Plot house for feng shui
51. Price primer and paint
52. Pay off Choice card

I've completed 47 items and I still need to come up with 2 more new items.

Hot Chocolate

I made this tonight and won't ever go back to instant hot chocolate. It's easy, tasty and satisfies my sweet tooth without being over the top rich.

In a glass measuring cup, heat up 1 cup of milk (I used skim) in the microwave until it gets to your preferred temperature.

In the cup you will be enjoying your hot chocolate from, mix 2 tbsp of hot water and 1 tbsp cocoa powder.

Add warm milk to cup and immediately add 1 tbsp of agave nectar. Mix and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Music Review - The Black Keys

My new favorite band. A friend sent me a link to a video and as soon as it started playing, I noticed this amazing music playing in the background and although the video itself was, ahem, "stimulating," it was the music that I was obsessed with. As with all videos on the internet, there was a place for comments. I took a chance that someone would mention the name of the band playing in the background. There among the critiques of the video and it's content, was the name of the band and the title of the two songs that played for the duration of the video. Yee Haw! After a quick google, I was at the band's website and listening to some of their music on MySpace. The song I really like is "Girl Is On My Mind." It's the first song on the video and is also on their MySpace page. I don't remember the name of the other song on the video but I do know it's not on MySpace. I could go back and look at the comments but I would get...distracted...and forget why I was there. :)

They are a two man band. Their music is largely self produced and has a wonderful, low tech, basic sound. When I first heard them, I immediately thought of delta blues being played in some backwater place. It's not flashy, it's just really good. Go have a listen and let me know what you think.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Carefree Beauty

Any Buck rose fans out there? If you're from Iowa and enjoy roses you've at least heard of them. They're the best roses for this zone. You can treat them like perennials, no fussing, no tipping, no protecting, just plant them and you're good to go. Apparently, the hard part for me is the planting part. I've had a Carefree Beauty sitting in it's original pot for 1.5 years. I bought it in May 2008. It managed to survive last winter sitting unprotected in my garage. Once it warmed up, it once again, sat patiently in it's container, on my patio for another summer. Today, it finally hit the dirt. After 1.5 years I finally got around to planting the damn thing. It's probably a death sentence. I have no idea how it will do since it won't have a whole lot of time to establish itself before winter and of course, I keep hearing "hard winter," as if the past two winters weren't cold enough. Ugh. I'll probably try to add some more leaf mulch later this month to give it a little more protection for the winter. I hope it does well.

Today was a productive day, in addition to planting the rose, I mowed the lawn, did poop patrol, took a couple bags of the mulched up leaves and grass clippings and put them around the plants I divided and replanted last weekend. I cleaned the outside of my office, my bedroom and the bathroom windows and cleaned the outside of the sliding glass doors. There is also new weather stripping on my office and bathroom windows. Tomorrow morning I will do my bedroom window.

Yesterday, I hauled out the ladder I borrowed and cleaned out the gutters. Yuck. I had my dad nearby to hold the ladder until I was comfortable with it. I really like this ladder and will definitely be buying one for myself. It's a Little Giant knockoff (Werner) so it's less expensive, although still pricey. It's also heavy! I don't need as tall of a ladder as the one I borrowed so hopefully the one I end up getting isn't as heavy. I was surprised at how well I did on it. I'm not a fan of heights, but it was nice and stable and I didn't freak out.

Also made applesauce yesterday. I had a bag of apples that I bought at the farmer's market last week. The first few were ok, but then I just wasn't really enjoying eating them. I'm not sure if it was the texture or what. I decided to try them as applesauce instead. I remember my mom mentioning how easy it was to make applesauce. I googled recipes and found that most of them called for very few ingredients. I ended up using peeled, cored and quartered apples (maybe 10?) the juice of 1/2 a lemon and 2 tbsp of cinnamon. I added the apples and lemon juice to a crock pot and cooked them on low for a few hours. I then added the cinnamon and stirred. By this point the apples were already well on their way to becoming sauce. A few hours later along with some stirring and mushing, I had chunky, yummy applesauce. It's really good. Tonight I even used some in a banana-blueberry bread I'm making. It's still baking. I'm eagerly awaiting my chance to sample some. I found the recipe online by googling "banana whole wheat flour agave." There were several recipes that came up. I chose to try the recipe with blueberries because 1) I have some and 2) I love blueberries! It's a vegan recipe so there's no eggs. Hmm, now I'm wondering what role eggs play in baking? I might have to reference my food geek book "On Food and Cooking" later to find out more. If you're interested in the recipe it's from the Fatfree Vegan Kitchen blog.

Still no word on the Silos and Smokestacks photo contest. I did get frames for two of the prints though. Actually, the frames are basic black frames so I can put any of the prints in them. I currently have "The Scenic Route" and "Butterfly" in the frames. Now I just have to figure out a place for them and get them hung up.

Oops, I almost forgot to mention, in case you weren't keeping track, I finished 8 items on my list today.

Plant rose
Mulch garden by garage
Clean office window
Seal office window
Clean sliding doors
Clean bathroom window
Seal bathroom window
Clean bedroom window

I'm also going to count "paint trim around bedroom window" as completed. It really needs a second coat but I don't think it's going to be warm enough to paint again. It's been primed and has one coat of paint so it should be fine for the winter. The rest of the painting goals probably aren't going to happen either. I really should have thought through my list a little longer when I came up with it. There's simply not enough time left to complete everything. I'm ok with that though, just making the list motivated me to get so much more done than I would have without it. If it weren't for the list, the Carefree Beauty most likely would have spent another winter in my garage.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Another Photo Contest

The annual "bitching about the weather" has come early this year. I have a friend that lives in Florida (one of my 3 readers) and each winter I whine to him about the weather here. It's 11:30pm (Iowa) on SEPTEMBER 29 and it's 46 freakin degrees out! I refuse to turn on the heat in September.

All of the entries to the Smokestacks and Silos photo contest are online. I assume this means the judging will commence soon. After looking at the other entries, I feel a lot better about the photos I submitted. There are some gorgeous photos, but there's also a lot of snapshots or photos that were entered into the completely wrong category. Snapshots are fine, but for a photo contest I was expecting high quality photos from everyone, thus making me nervous about my own, novice attempts. However, I now realize I entered decent photos and didn't embarrass myself.

Speaking of photo contests, I sent in my entries to the APTA (American Public Transportation Association, a.k.a. "bus geeks") photo contest. This was one of the items on my to-do list.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sucky Weekend Update

I was told, by one of my three readers, that my last post was "a downer." I guess it probably was. The thing is, I really didn't go into all of the reasons the weekend sucked; I just focused on the two ER visits. But, I'm not going to go into all of that now. It's over with. Instead I'm back with another update to my to-do list.

This morning I got my butt out of bed, loaded my roommate's truck with yard waste and hauled it off to the yard waste place. I still have probably two more loads but this was the one I really needed to since I was able to clear out all of the dead stuff that was piled along side the garage for all to see. The remaining piles are in the back yard and aren't nearly the eye sore as the front one was.

After I was done with the yard waste, I went to Lowe's and purchased some furnace filters, then went home and got ready for work. On my way to work I stopped by the optical shop to donate two pairs of old glasses. After work I stopped by a friend's house and borrowed their ladder.

So just to recap, in case you were so riveted by my exciting life that you weren't really paying attention to the details, I completed 4, count'em FOUR items on my list!

*Take in yard waste
*Change furnace filter (September)
*Donate glasses - Finally! I've been meaning to donate the damn things for over a year. It feels great to have them gone.
*Borrow ladder from Eric

I have four more items that need to be done while it's still "warm." This could be a challenge. Although it was in the upper 70's yesterday (while I sat in the freakin ER again, but I digress) it's only going to get into the low 60's this week. This it going to make it tough to get exterior painting done, not impossible, but tough. I'm hoping to get it done by this weekend.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

I'm glad this weekend is over.

Ooooh, I think this is my 50th post. Too bad I don't have something really profound to share. I just thought I would stop by to give an update on my 99 Things To Do list. This weekend was almost really productive. I ended up sitting in the ER both days. Yesterday was for my roommate (he's fine) and then today was work related (she's fine). Both visits occured in the middle of me trying to take advantage of the nice weather to get some of my gardening items done. Grrrr.

Here's what I DID get done
Weed flower bed along back of house
Weed flower bed along south side of house (front)
Divide geranium 1
Divide geranium 2
I was also hoping to also plant my Buck rose, take in yard waste, borrow a ladder and get some more painting done.

I just counted, I have 17 items done and I'm on day 19. Hmm, I think I'll go change the furnace filter....and.....take a cutting from an out of control, vining house plant. Those two will put me back on track.
FAIL, no furnace filters! ARGH! This weekend sucks! Time to curl up into a ball and rock back and forth.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday Night Rambling

I actually did some painting today. Yippie! I scraped and sanded around my bedroom window, primed it and did the first coat of paint. I also painted the trim around the garage door and above the garage door. Everything needs one more coat so I'm holding off on marking those items completed on my to do list. I even managed to NOT paint my window shut.

It's clear to me after todays activities, mainly attempting to clean out the eaves with a ladder that's about 2' too short, that I really need to purchase a ladder. Ugh. I measured the highest point on my house and minimum I need a 12' ladder, 15' might be better though.

I also need to get my car door fixed. I can't open the driver side door from the inside. I have to roll down my window and open it using the outside handle.

With the above two items, along with the various items on my to do list that require money, such as "fix snowblower" or "clean carpets", I can feel my goal of paying off my Choice card by the end of the year slipping away. Ironically, paying off my Choice card is on my to do list. Perhaps if I sell some items on ebay (also on my to do list) I will be able to pay for some of the other stuff on my list.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Silos and Smokestacks

Gulp! I did it. I entered the Silos and Smokestacks photo contest. I can check that one off of my list. I'm kind of nervous but I'm not sure why. I'm curious to know if I'll receive any feedback from the judges. I guess that makes me nervous. Anyway, I did it. It's done and now I can stop obsessing about it. Here are the photos I submitted.

The Scenic Route, Events - Iowa State Fair

Grasses, Scenic

Veins, Heritage Site - Reiman Gardens

Beta Carotene, Events - Des Moines Farmers Market

Spinning Lights, Events - Iowa State Fair

Playing With Mud, Heritage Site - Iowa State Fair

Butterfly, Heritage Site - Reiman Gardens

Cattails, Scenic

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

99 Things in 99 Days

After reading about the adventures of one of the ladies on WIR to finish a list of 99 things to do in 99 days, I decided to give myself the same challenge. So on 09/09/09 I created a list of random things to do over the next 99 days. Some items are easy (read instructions,) some are more ambitious (finish painting around patio,) some are simply things I've been meaning to do for a long time but just never get around to it (recycle inkjet cartridge.) After completing the list, I realized I should have put a little more thought into it. I came up with the list in about 30 minutes and in my haste, listed quite a few items that need to be done before it gets cold. Weeding, painting, planting, etc. all need to be done by the end of October which means I really need to get moving. Especially since a lot of the items are weekend projects. There really aren't that many warm weekends left.

So my complete list is below. I tried to group similar items together, but really it's just a hodge podge of items that are all over the place. My 99 days will be up on December 16. Wish me luck!

Get snow blower fixed - done
ebay - Bridesmaid dress
ebay - Jeans
ebay - Black leather jacket
ebay - Brown leather jacket
ebay - Winter jacket
ebay - Fall/spring jacket
ebay - 3 mil wetsuit
ebay - 7 mil wetsuit
Exchange wetsuit hood - completed
Borrow ladder from Eric - done
Remove front screen and replace with glass door - done
Get and estimate to repair jewelry
Enter Silos and Smokestacks photo contest - Done!
Enter APTA photo contest - Done!
Contact CSA about taking pictures
Contact Northern Prairie Chevre about taking pictures
Contact Picket Fence Creamery about taking pictures
Take and pass ACE Personal Training Certification test
Paint trim around garage
Sand paint by front door
Paint trim around bedroom window - done
Finish painting around patio
Fix baseboard paint by tub
Purchase cable line hangers - completed
Install cable line hangers - completed
Get estimate for tree trimming/removal
Plant Buck rose - done
Take in yard waste - done
Finish weeding center flower bed - completed
Weed flower bed along south fence (backyard) - Done!
Weed flower bed along back of house - Done
Weed flower bed along south side of house (front) - Done
Mulch flower bed along south side of house (front)
Divide (perennial) geranium 1 - Done
Divide (perennial) geraniam 2 - Done
Move garden pots to shed - done
Take plastic garden pots to Kay
Clean out shed
Move hose to shed - done
Make a path in rear flower bed - done
Add rock to flower bed along garage
Change furnace filter - September - done
Change furnace filter - November
Empty gas from lawn mower - done
Prep kitchen walls to be primed
Prime kitchen walls
Use up frozen veggies in freezer - done
Hang window frame - done
Repot (annual) geranium to indoor pot - done
Repot hibiscus
Repot croton
Repot philodendron
Take cuttings from other house plants - done
Purchase a bday gift for dad - done
Purchase Christmas gifts
Go through 14 magazines and then get rid of them
Train for Run for the Roses 10K
Vacuum car
Do album of pictures from mom
Finish study abroad scrapbook
Price new baseboards for kitchen - done
Sand DVD cabinet
Paint DVD cabinet
Get facial (use bday gift certificate)
Use Jax gift card - done
Donate old eye glasses - done
Recycle inkjet cartridge - done
Spackle holes living room walls - done
Clean bathroom window -done
Weather strip bathroom window - done
Clean bedroom window - done
Weather strip bedroom window - done
Clean office window - done
Weather strip office window - done
Clean front window - done
Clean sliding door - done
Weather strip sliding door - done
Remove all books and completely dust shelves in office
Write AND send Christmas cards
Take sale items to Linda G.
Scrape paint from laundry room window
Clean laundry room window
Purchase plane tickets to PHX - completed
Spackle holes in bedroom closet walls
Dispose of old fire extinguisher
Dispose of old cell phone battery - done
Dispose of bag 'o matches - done
Read about the proper way to clean the dishwasher - Done
Clean refrigerator coils
Clean refrigerator
Plot house for feng shui
Get carpets cleaned
Finish floor by front door - done
Finish molding on kitchen cabinet
Install hooks in kitchen cabinet
Spackle holes in kitchen walls - completed
Price primer and paint
Pay off Choice credit card!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Chicken Shit Bingo

So, as promised, here's my tale of Chicken Shit Bingo. We played this at a family reunion earlier this summer.

You start with a large board that's been divided into several squares that are numbered.

Each square was sold for $2. Once all of the squares were sold, it was time for the chicken. The entire point of the game is to wait for the chicken to shit on a square. Whoever owns that square wins half the money collected. This sounds simple enough except that the chicken wouldn't shit. Imagine a large group of adults, standing around the perimeter of the box, literally trying to scare the shit out of the chicken.

The chicken, although terrified, was not shitting. Instead it flew out of the box...three separate times...and was chased by dogs and grown men...three separate times.

In the end, the stunt chicken was brought in. She was well prepared for her role; she promptly shit on square 8 and then went back to doing whatever chickens do in their leisure time.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


It's been too long since I've posted anything. I've had blog worthy events occur in my life but I'm too tired to write about them now. I just stopped by for a quickie post to share some amazing/miserable news. Last night I added up how much money I've put towards my credit card debt so far in 2009; the grand total is $10,499! I'm both amazed that I've been able to pay that much in just 9 months :) and miserable that I put myself in a position that requires me to do so in the first place. :( OMG, think of the things I can do be doing with that money! OMG, I'm so proud that I finally grew up and took control of my finances!

Losing debt is so similar to losing weight. When I was overweight, it's like I had a filter that distorted the picture I had of myself. I didn't see fat, I just saw me. I got so used to seeing myself overweight that I able to ignore the fat. The same thing with debt. I got so used to seeing the large numbers, that after awhile it just didn't register how bad it was. The thing is, these filters were only about 95% effective because there was always a little nagging voice that reminded me something wasn't quite right. "Hmmm, I'm not sure my stomach is supposed to be resting on my thighs." "Umm, five figure credit card debt seems just a little out of line..." Thank god for that 5% or I'd still be a fat chick blindly racking up credit card debt.

The problem with losing debt is, it isn't as obvious as losing weight. One of the things that kept me motivated to keep losing weight was the incredible support I received from family, friends and coworkers. Unless someone is living in poverty, debt and especially the elimination of debt isn't obvious to anyone. Also, for whatever reason, it seems like some people are more uncomfortable talking about finances even if it's not about their own. Why is it that it's socially acceptable to lose weight but not debt? In most cases the person created their own problem (overweight/debt) but losing one is embraced but losing the other is more taboo. Perhaps because being overweight is more obvious than being in debt, people are forced to confront it. There's no way to hide the fat, whereas debt can be hidden. Perhaps the secretive aspect of gaining debt carries over into it's elimination. Hmmm, that went off in a direction I hadn't planned. Anywho, the truth is, I DO have support for my debt elimination. It's from a great group of women on the WIR message boards. They are all going through what I'm going through in some form or another. We come together in our virtual worlds to discuss what we can't discuss in our real lives. It would just be nice if the $10,499 I've paid would show up as baggy pants so I could walk down the hall at work and have a coworker exclaim "Damn girl, have you lost some debt? You look great!" :)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Weekend in Review

I was up until 4am Friday morning going through letters, cards, pictures, papers of a deceased cousin whose stuff I inherited. I didn't get everything, just the papers. Her executor found out I was into genealogy and asked if I wanted all of the memorabilia, family history type stuff. I of course said yes. He sent 6 boxes filled with mostly letters, pictures, cards, papers, yearbooks, etc. It was overwhelming but kinda cool. Mixed in with every freakin letter and card she ever received are gems of family history. The letters are also full of information but I haven't had the ambition to tackle that project. There are literally HUNDREDS of letters, all handwritten so they're a nightmare to read. Anyway, I was able to throw out a bunch of stuff, organize and consolidate the rest of it so it's taking up less room in my closet. I even found $21 cash and some stuff to sell at my upcoming garage sale.

Saturday I finished up going through my cousins stuff, met up with friends for dinner ("Chinese" buffet - American gluttony at it's best) and then we went to see "Bruno" (don't waste your money or at least wait until it's cheap.) After the movie we sat out on a patio, drank pina coladas and started a fire (in a fire pit type thing.)

Today I went out to breakfast with my roommates, mowed the lawn, cleaned out the garage for the sale, cleaned up a few items that I'm selling, weeded, loaded roomies truck with mulch from the freebie mulch pile, then put said mulch in flower beds. I then rode my bike to Target, finally took a much needed shower, did three loads of laundry, cleaned the kitchen, swept and vacuumed.

I think I'll call this a fairly productive weekend.

Friday, July 17, 2009

"And that's the way it is."

Walter Cronkite 1916 - 2009

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Family Fun

I'm home for a family reunion this weekend. The reunion was yesterday and was o.k.. I'll probably write more about it at a later date. However, I realized that my family fun meter has just pegged, like about 15 minutes ago. I've had enough quality family time. Perhaps a good night sleep will reset my meter or perhaps the fact that I'm heading home tomorrow morning will reset it (hee). Either way, I've happily shut myself in my (guest) room and am blissfully alone. I love my parents, they are the most important people in my life but holy crap, they can drive me crazy. Anywho, I just needed to vent. I'll be back later with the tale of "chicken shit bingo" from the reunion!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

The Things I Could Do With $1100 A Month

I'm back to obsessing about my debt (I took a break to countdown to vacay.) Anyway, in addition to trying to figure out how much money I can send to my higher interest card this month, I also tried to plan for the upcoming increase minimum payment for my Chase card. I'm really trying to keep my entire budget so that I can pay for everything just from my paycheck. The money I get from my roommates, ideally, all goes to additional payments to my higher interest card or other random crap that comes up. In order to make my budget work with the increased Chase payment I have to reduce the payment to my higher interest card by $225. This works, because it's still more than the minimum payment but it still sucks.

So I got the whole Chase thing worked out but that got me thinking about how it was going to affect my higher interest card payments. I've also been wanting to figure out the "master payback plan." Basically, when in the hell am I going to dump this credit card debt? Using a snowball payment calculator and some (hopefully) reasonable guesses, it looks like I can pay off my higher interest card by Mar 2010 and the other card by Sep 2010. I did a different version of the calculations and had the first card paid off by the end of the year but the final date of Sep. 2010 was the same. So basically it looks like I will be done with first card somewhere between Dec 2009 and Mar 2010. That's good news. The bad news is, the Sep 2010 date assumes I can manage to consistently come up with $1100 each month to put towards credit card payments. That could be hard since it doesn't take into account gifts, repairs, vacations (gasp) or anything that life is notorious at throwing at us. I have an emergency fund for the big stuff but I'm concerned about the little, random stuff.

I printed off the repayment schedule to use as motivation. It's going to be hard to not slack off on occasion and send it less than $1100 but damn, I'd REALLY like to get the first card paid off by the end of the year. That would be a real victory and a great way to start the new year.

So, back to the title of this post. Crap! $1100 a month and I'm sending it away to friggin credit card companies. It's frustrating to think of all the things I could be doing with $1100 a month.

September 2010...that would be nice...that would be very nice. Maybe October 2010 I'll take my $1100 and go diving.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Dive Log - Thor's Wall

Location: Thor's Wall
Date: 15 Jun 2009
Dive No.: 1st of the day, 7th of the trip, 75 lifetime
Depth: 101 feet
Bottom Time: 39 minutes
Bottom Temp: 81 degrees Fahrenheit
Starting psi: 3000

Ending psi: 900
Visibility: ~100 ft

Ok, I just have to comment on this dive. It was amazing! First of all, it's my deepest dive to date, so that alone makes it significant. I finally broke 3 digits! I basically inched my way down until I hit 100' and then ascended a bit. I didn't realize until later when I was reviewing my dive computer that I actually hit 101'.

Then there was the visibility. OMG. It was THE best vis I've ever experienced diving. It was so a crisp, focused way. Everything looked very sharp. It was breathtaking.

And finally...the life! There were fish everywhere. The site was basically a gradual slope that lead to a wall. Along the slope there were deeper ridges that you could follow down to the wall. Most of the life was at the top of the ridges, although we saw life at all depths. The variety of colors and sizes and shapes was phenomenal.

June Financial Update

Debt Reduction

As of my June update I have paid off $10,719 of my credit card debt which puts me at 40% paid. I anticipate hitting the 50% mark with my August update which will be one month sooner than I had originally estimated! I'm trying to be aggressive with paying off my higher interest credit card. Starting August I will have less money to send to it (see below) so I'd like to send as much as I can now. I had money left over from my vacation that ideally should have been returned to the "Scuba Fund". However I decided it was better to apply it to a card with 11% interest rather than sitting in a savings account earning 2%. So, I sent in $400 last week. Tonight I was able to send in another $400 and after 2 more deposits clear, I'll be able to send in another $480! My July update is gonna rock.

Chase is Evil

Like many out there, I received notice that my minimum payment for my Chase card is increasing from 2% to 5% beginning with the August payment. UGH. I can afford the increased payment but it means I have less money to send to my other, higher interest credit card. I called today to find out if they had an opt out option where I could close the account and freeze the minimum payment at the current 2%. Nope. Hmm, how surprising that Chase is unwilling to work with it's customers. I've only had this same experience...let's see...every single time I've called them. The "representative" actually had the nerve to say that "they (she kept saying 'they' instead of 'we') were just trying to get these accounts paid off sooner." Umm, what? Are you kidding me? They really want me to pay off my debt so they can no longer collect on interest? Right.

Anywho, the kicker is, I really hate Chase and I really want to pay off my debt so I can close the damn account and tell Chase to screw themselves. Paying 2.5 times more each month than I am now will certainly help, but the fact is, I have another credit card out there that is earning twice as much interest as my Chase card. I need to be sending my money to the other card. I guess I should be happy that they haven't increased my interest rate as well (yet.)

Oh, and apparently in the spirit of "just trying to get these accounts paid off sooner" Chase just increased my credit limit by $4000. Nice.

Goals for July

Keep track of all spending for the month.
I start off well the first week or so and then stop. This month I'm going to track it all.

Stick to my budget. Again, I start off ok and then slack off.

20 $0 Spend Days. 2/20 so far!

Garage sale. This one is a done deal. It's planned for the 24th and 25th. Now I need to make sure I get going and prepare for it.

Sell on eBay. I still have items to sell that I'm not going to bother trying to sell at the garage sale.

Current credit card debt: $15,798

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

First Time Buyer

I won my bid on eBay today! I bid on a personal training home study course. I've been thinking about getting certified as a personal trainer for a few months. My plan was to wait until after vacation before I really went full steam ahead. I've been watching eBay for since before my vacation and knew that there's usually a study program up for auction. I lost my first auction earlier this week. If I had lost today's as well, I would have simply purchased the materials from the certifying agency's website just to be done with it. Instead I was able to save about $75 by purchasing from eBay. Now I just have to wait for the seller to ship it all out. This is the first time I've purchased anything off of eBay so I hope it all goes well and I don't have to hassle with anything. I just want to get going. I'm looking forward to starting this next chapter of my life.

My Weight Loss Journey

I've been wanting to share this for awhile. I already posted a version of this on but never got it posted here. So for what it's worth, here's my story.

On February 26, 2006 I was reading Oxygen magazine’s “Fat Loss” special edition. In it was an article about how to lose 49 pounds by July 1. The basic premise was in order to lose weight you need to burn calories through exercise and eat fewer calories. The plan that was laid out was to lose 2 lbs per week by eliminating 500 calories and burning 500 calories each day. For whatever reason, the article made sense to me. Something clicked. I knew then and there that I was finally going to follow through on losing weight. I wasn’t ever a real dieter. I didn’t drift from one fad diet to another, losing and gaining weight; I simply kept on gaining until I topped out at 260 pounds. That night was truly the beginning of my journey. A few days later, I even had the presence of mind to mark the day in my calendar because I knew it was a significant day in my life.

It took me two years to lose 105 pounds. I’ve been hovering around 155 for a little over a year. I’ve been as low as 149 (for about 6 hours) and have sneaked up to 159 but for the most part I’m steady at 155. It’s nice because I haven’t been religiously logging all of my food this past year. I’ve been able to eat about right and exercise enough to stay right around the same weight. This is reassuring because I was very nervous about keeping the weight off. I don’t want to screw up everything I’ve accomplished.

Surprisingly, I’m still trying to get a handle on my eating. I still don’t eat when I’m hungry; I eat when I think I should eat or when I simply want to eat. I still crave food simply for the satisfaction of eating. It’s not hunger, it’s emotional or habit or …. something. This really bothers me and I’m really trying to figure out what is going on. I have a few theories but I’m just not sure. When I get home at night, I eat dinner but then keep on snacking until bed. Granted I’m snacking on almonds and carrots (not too bad) or peanut butter and jelly (not horrible, but not great) but it’s calories I don’t need. The food isn’t serving any purpose other than to allow me to eat. I’m not binging or stuffing myself to discomfort, but I’m not eating to fuel my body. I’m concerned that this need to eat simply to eat will derail me achievements. I even had a dream a few nights ago that I was looking in the mirror and my face was fuller and I knew I was gaining back the weight I had lost. It's another bump on the weight loss road and there have been many. I've made it this far. I need to have faith that I will continue with my success and figure this out as well.

What’s next? Tackling my debt. This may not seem to be related to weight loss but I really believe it is. Right about the time a reached my goal weight, I decided to change the way I approached my finances. I realized I was living beyond my means and needed to stop using my credit cards and start actively paying them off. This decision didn’t happen one memorable night like my weight loss decision did. I don’t have a date marked in my calendar of when I sat and decided to finally become fiscally responsible but I do know that it occurred very close to when I finally reached 155 lbs. I believe my weight loss success gave me the courage to take an honest look at my debt and make a plan to actively start paying it off. I also think I needed something else to control. I had taken control of my health by logging every single bite of food and every single minute of exercise and had been successful. I think I needed another area to direct my efforts so I could continue to see results. If I wasn’t going to be losing weight anymore then I needed to be losing something so why not my debt? In the past year, I haven’t used my credit card once. I’ve been on two vacations and paid for everything in cash and I’ve paid off 40% of my debt. It’s such a great feeling to know I’m making financial progress while still keeping off the weight.

So there it is, my weight loss journey to date. I’ve heard that those who are able to maintain their weight loss for 2 years have a very good chance of keeping it off permanently. So my journey is not over by any means. I have another 6 months minimum to keep off the weight and hopefully come to terms with my eating. I’ve decided that reaching my goal weight was simply the beginning of a lifelong journey. The past 3 years have been very illuminating. It’s bizarre to realize I’m just now really starting to understand who I am and what I’m capable of accomplishing. How is it a person can go 40 years and not know who they are? I really think the fat literally and figuratively insulated me from not only the external world but from allowing myself to step out and just really be who I was meant to be.

I think it’s important to realize that if I can do this, anyone can. I want people to know that I still struggle, the work continues. Just because I’ve reached my goal doesn’t mean I’m skipping through meadows, singing with the birds. But guess what? IT’S WORTH IT! I wouldn’t change a thing! My struggle with food, the skin that hangs from my stomach, the aches and pains from exercising, the several hundred dollars I’ve spent on new clothes, IT’S ALL WORTH IT!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Dive Log - Shark Junction

Location: Shark Junction, Grand Bahama
Date: 18 Jun 2009
Dive No.: 4 of the day, 21 of the trip, 89 lifetime
Depth: 43 feet
Bottom Time: 32 minutes
Bottom Temp: 84 degrees Fahrenheit

I wasn't going to go on this dive. I was cold and hadn't really enjoyed the other dives of the day. The first two were wrecks, Theo's Wreck and Seaster. I should have been ecstatic, I love wrecks and these were both decent sized and intact but instead I was apprehensive and couldn't relax. Maybe it was the depth, 99' and 85' respectively, or maybe I was just tired. Anyway I made one circuit of each of the wrecks and then went up.

After the second dive, it rained and it cooled down a lot. Too much for my taste. The third dive was cold and it was still drizzling a bit when we got in. It was a reef called Angel Camp. Even though I was cold I still managed a 43 minute dive. It wiped me out. I was cold, tired and I was done.

I changed into dry clothes and was prepared to sit out the last dive of the trip. I listened to the dive briefing and watched the other passengers get ready and giant stride into the ocean. There were only two more divers waiting to get in. I heard someone mention seeing sharks. It was horrible, I couldn't believe I was going to miss the last dive of the trip but I was so COLD.

I couldn't stand it, I ran downstairs, put on my cold, wet swimsuit, ran up, flung on my cold, wet gear and jumped in. DAMN, it's cold! But wait, I can see 4 sharks, this is very cool. I look around for my dive buddies and find them right away. There's no need to stray far from the mooring line because the sharks are swimming around within sight of the line. I join my dive buddies and we swim around a little bit but mostly we just stay put and watch. It's incredible. 4 sharks, wait, now there's 7 sharks! This is SO COOL! Now there's 10 sharks, maybe 12, it's hard to keep track. Finally, after about 25 minutes, I can't stand it, I'm so cold that I signal I'm heading up. Not even 12 sharks can keep me down. I hang at 15' for my safety stop watching the sharks circle. It's the fastest safety stop I've ever experienced.

I cringe when I think how I almost missed it all. It was the perfect end to a week of great diving.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Great Workout

Lately my workouts have felt like a chore. I get through them but my ass is usually dragging. Tonight was a great workout. I did lower body and then because I was feeling so good, I went for a quick, short run in the rain. I wish I could feel this good for all of my workouts. It makes it very easy to stay motivated to keep up the pace. Even running in the rain felt better than my previous several runs. Hmmm, how do I harness this amazing feeling? I feel strong and sexy and amazing.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Financial Update

It's been a while since I've done a financial update, so here goes. Last month was great for No Spend Days (NSD). I had 23 days where I didn't spend money on frivolous purchases. This month has not started off as well. It's April 5 and I've only had 1 NSD. My goal is 23 so I really need to hunker down.

February was noteworthy because as I wrote in an early blog, not only was it my one year anniversary without using my credit card, it was also my one year anniversay on the Women In Red Racers message board. Since it was a significant date in my financial life I wanted to signify it by reaching a financial goal. So with some aggressive payments, I reached my goal of paying off 25% of my credit card debt in one year! I also got my "winky face" for my WIRR update which indicates I've paid off $5000 of my debt. My next milestone should happen with my May update when I get my "party hat" (a smilie face wearing a party hat) which shows I've paid off $10,000 in debt.

My next big goal will be to pay off my first credit card. At a monthly payment of $500, that won't happen until October 2010. That is unacceptable. After I've saved enough for my vacation in June, I'm going to start trying to pay more on that card. It will drive me nuts to be paying on that damn thing for another 18 months. Especially since after that, I will still have my other card and then after that I still have my fucking student loan. ARGH! It's so frustrating that I let it get so bad. I know I could pay everything off sooner if I stopped going on scuba vacations, but I think I would really go nuts not having something to look forward to.

Current credit card debt: $17,888

Goals for April

- 23/30 NSD - Eek, I'm not off to a good start.
- Post stuff on ebay - this was a goal for March but it didn't happen.
- Cash only, leave debit card at home - I'm not off to a good start on this one either.
- Garden - I started a few seeds last night. I need to make sure to follow through on this one.

Hmm, I have more to share, like the 6 inches worth of paperwork that I shredded last night. But I'm tired and must go to bed. It will have to wait for another day.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Polly Want A Cracker?

I made Wheat Thins! Or at least a version of them. I found a recipe for "Wheat Thin Crackers" in the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain cookbook that I checked out from the library (fit AND frugal.) I read through the recipe and it seemed easy enough so I decided to give it a try. I told my friend Lisa about it and she was wanted to come over and help. So last night, after gorging ourselves at dinner (not so fit,) we came here to my house and made wheat thin crackers. They look like Wheat Thins but I don't think they really taste like them. They ARE good though and 100% whole grain wheat! I would definitely make these again, they were super easy. The only bad part is, like Wheat Thins, I want to sit and eat them all.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Chicken Massacre

I've been slowly trying to transition to all organic foods. It's been a slow process since in most cases, organic = expensive, or at least it does where I live. For example, I recently paid over $6 for a pound of organic ground turkey. Ouch! So in an attempt to still eat organic but not completely blow my budget, I decided I need to start buying whole, organic turkey or chicken, which is way cheaper than the cut up version. Of course I've never worked with a whole bird before and had no idea how to cut it up into pieces I'm familiar with. Today I decided to go for it and try my hand at cutting up a whole chicken. First things first, I got my knives sharpened! They were really dull. When I took them in to be sharpened, the lady felt the blade, looked at me and said "these are really dull." "Umm, ya, I know." Anywho, 20 minutes later, I had nice sharp knives. (Side note: it's very odd to walk down Main St. carrying a canvas shopping bag containing two large knives.)

I went to the store and found the cheapest, whole chicken I could find. I wasn't going to bother with organic for this adventure.

I got home, sat down and watched a couple of "how to" videos that I found on the Internet. I set my laptop on the kitchen counter and covered it with plastic wrap so I could play the video without getting chicken goo all over my keyboard. The video I ended up using was one from It was nice and detailed and the person giving the instructions wasn't annoying. It was also professionally done so it looked and sounded good unlike some of the home grown vids I viewed.

Overall I think it went pretty well. It wasn't the prettiest scene I've ever gazed upon but in the end, the pieces looked somewhat familiar. Now I'm considering how I can grind my own turkey. I've decided that I NEED a Kitchenaid stand mixer with the food grinder attachment and while I'm at it, I might as well throw in the pasta attachment as well. Hah! It's amazing how quickly the urgency to pay off debt diminishes when I can justify a new purchase. "This will save me $ in the end." "Think of all the foods I could make if I just had the professional version in the very cool COPPER color."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Update in 2205 Words or Less

Wow, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything here. Let’s see…since I posted last I went to Wisconsin for Christmas, went on vacation to Florida, survived -22 degree temperatures here, turned 40 and as of today, went one year without using my credit card! Yay me!

Christmas in Wisconsin

On the way there, my normal 7.5 hour drive took 12 hours due to crappy road conditions. That was a lot of fun. Once I finally arrived in WI my visit was fine. Christmas was good, I got to see relatives, frost Christmas cookies, get into (or perhaps instigated) a political argument (everyone’s REALLY opinionated about this election) and even managed to exercise. Of course I ended up returning a day early to avoid another 12 hour drive due to more crappy weather.

Vacay in Fort Lauderdale

I think this might rank up there as one of my best vacations ever. I stayed with my friend Charlie who lives in Fort Lauderdale and conveniently works at a dive shop. It didn’t start out great since my other friend, Clipper, who was also going to FL went and got herself a concussion and was unable to go That sucked. I was bummed that she wouldn’t be able to go and I was a little worried that since it was just me staying Charlie for a week that we would get on each other’s nerves. I worried for nothing because Charlie and I got along great. The whole week was perfect. The weather was beautiful, I got in 8 dives (see my dive log below,) I got to hang out with a great friend and I ate cheese and bacon pretty much everyday I was there. AND I paid for the whole damn vacation in cash!

6 Jan 2009, Scuba-Do, Key Largo

So we get up at the butt crack of dawn to drive to Key Largo for a morning dive. The drive there wasn’t too bad. Charlie was faking perkiness pretty well while chugging down Diet Cokes. We arrived at Key Largo about and hour early so we stopped for breakfast and then made our way to the Scuba-Do store. We were a little early so we tried to sleep in the car until they opened. After we got registered and signed the liability forms we were off to the boat. It was fantastic because we got the entire boat to ourselves.

Dive 1 – The Spiegel Grove

Holy crap, we’re diving the Spiegel Grove! I’ve been itching to dive and intact wreck and the Speigel Grove was high on my list. It’s considered more of an advanced dive but I figured since I had a dive instructor as my buddy, I should be good to go. On the boat as we were preparing to get in, I had my usual pre-dive anxiety. Since this was the first time I had ever really dived with Charlie, I don’t think he wasn’t used to my nervousness. I did my nervous little ritual of talking myself into taking the giant stride. Once I was in the water I could feel that this wasn’t going well since my mask and regulator were making me feel claustrophobic. I think I really freaked out the crew and Charlie when I kicked over to Charlie, handed him my reg. and asked him to turn it all of the way up. Not usually a good sign. On the way down the mooring line I was doing my “slow deep breaths” and “don’t freak out” mental chants. Even though I was not doing well I was still excited to see the wreck come into view. It was so cool. Once we were on the wreck, I continued with my internal monologue. I kept telling myself not to bolt, to remain calm. I actually looked up at a mooring line that was not in use and considered simply heading up and making the boat come and get me. In the meantime, Charlie is giving me the “are you o.k.?” signal about every 30 seconds. At some point in the dive, and I have no idea when or why, I was o.k. I started to really enjoy myself and relax. Of course I had sucked through so much damn air that we really didn’t have a lot of time on the wreck. I am glad that I pulled it together and was able to enjoy my first real wreck. It was amazing. I’m ready to go back!

Dive 2 – The Benwood

Wow, this wreck was filled with life! The wreck itself is spread out quite a bit. It’s kinda cool because we just kept moving from piece to piece. Charlie got some great video and even handed over the camera to me briefly to get some video of him. It was in about 55 feet of water so we were able to stay down a long time. In fact we finally ended the dive simply because we were so cold. I actually came up with 1000 psi in my tank - much better than our first dive.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009, Jupiter Dive Center, Jupiter

Dive 1 - I finally got to use my Nitrox, forgive me, my Enriched Air Diver card. I rented 100 cu ft. steel tanks. The weight of the tanks meant I had to do some adjusting with my added weight. Up to this point I had been using 22 lbs. Probably a little too high, but not bad considering I was using a 7mil wetsuit, 7 mil boots and neoprene socks. The divemaster recommended reducing my added weights by about 6 lbs. So I loaded up my 16 lbs of lead. Charlie and I were at the back of the boat so we were one of the first ones in. I could tell right away that I was well weighted because I dropped like a stone. First thing we saw when we reached the bottom was a ginormous grouper out in the sand. The ledge we were drifting along had a lot of life. We saw a huge school of Atlantic Spadefish that Charlie got some great video of. We also saw a few sharks including a nurse shark that was probably about 6 ft away from me. Earlier in the dive I saw a shark at the top of the ledge. Charlie had mentioned earlier that if you yell loud enough into your regulator, others can hear and understand what you’re saying. I decided to try this out by yelling to Charlie and pointing to the shark. He actually heard me and was able to get it on video.

There was really a lot to see on the first dive. Unfortunately, I was so freaking overweighted that I spent most of the time screwing around with my buoyancy. I was also getting really tired from hauling around the extra weight. It didn’t help that the divemaster who was leading the group and holding the dive flag was kicking down the ledge rather that simply drifting. That meant the rest of us had to kick to keep up. I sucked through my air very fast. When I saw my air pressure at 1000 psi, I indicated to Charlie that I wanted to go to the line. Of course that meant I had to kick harder to catch up to the damn line. By the time I was at the line I was at about 600 psi and getting more than a little concerned. I immediately started to head up assuming Charlie saw me head up and was right behind me. When I looked back, he was still at the bottom. I was getting really nervous now because I still had to do my safety stop. I met up with another solo diver on the line, showed him my pressure gauge. He kindly buddied up with me for the safety stop and ascent. During the safety stop I had a hard time maintaining my depth and kept sinking a little. When I sunk too low, my computer would stop the countdown until I was back up in the acceptable range. In the meantime, I’m watching my freaking air pressure plummet. I REALLY did not want to have to share air with my new buddy because I didn’t want to be the dumbass who couldn’t keep track of their air pressure. I finally gave up on my computer and went ahead and ascended the rest of the way. At the surface I got to enjoy the lovely feeling of being a very small diver in the middle of a very large ocean. Thankfully I had enough air remaining to inflate my bc and breath off of my reg. while I bobbed around in the waves. My buddy inflated his safety sausage and we waited for the boat. Actually, it was pretty easy. The boat came right up to us, and the captain got close enough so the ladder was maybe 5 feet away. Getting up the ladder was very easy because they use the Christmas tree ladder so I didn’t have to mess with removing my damn fins.

The first thing I did once I was on the boat was to shed some lead. Unfortunately, there were no more weights but another diver was willing to give me his weights and he used a couple of mine. The bad thing was he only had 3, 4 lb weights. He lost one of his weight pouches on the first dive. That meant I was I little off balance with 4 lbs in one pouch and 8 lbs in the other, but it was still better than the balanced 16 lbs.

After a little post dive review with Charlie where he reminded me what the ascend hand signal was and I pointed out to him that I would like to start our ascent on the next dive at 1000 lbs we were good to go for the next dive.

Dive 2 - The goal for the beginning of this dive was for everyone (all 12 of us) to descend right away before we drifted past the first point of interest. The descent went well. I had enough weight to descend easily but not so much that I beat everyone to the bottom. I think because the divemaster stressed the various points of interest so much, we tended to bunch up on this dive quite at bit. It was like freaking bumper divers down there and there was so much silt being stirred up. The current also seemed stronger on this dive so it made it very hard to stop and look under ledges not that anything could be seen under the ledges with all of the freaking silt everywhere. There were a few highlights on this dive though. We saw a really big loggerhead turtle. He looked like a big grandpa to me and he came so close, it was very cool. We also saw a few more sharks in the distance. Apparently there was a big nurse shark under a ledge but by that time I was so sick of bumping into other divers and having sand kicked up, I just kept out of the way so Charlie could get it on video. When I reached 1000 psi (of course gill-boy still had plenty of air left) we both gave the ascend signal and went up the line for our safety stop. Again, at the surface, we signaled that we were fine and the captain came right up to us (in fact it looked like he was going to run us down) and we climbed aboard. We were one of the last divers on this time so I felt like I kind of redeemed myself from the previous dive since we were one of the first divers in. I surfaced with a respectable and safe, 500 psi. Gill-boy still had 1500 and he was using smaller tanks. Grrrr.

One of the highlights of the day occurred on the ride back. We were talking with some of the other divers and found out that there was a family from Ames and, better yet, they were all certified by Jerry. Once again Charlie finds himself on a boat with a bunch of Iowans, all of which are Jerry’s kids. It was perfect!

I would definitely do this dive again, I would just be better prepared. It would be nice if there were less divers in the water. I think we got spoiled by our private boat in Key Largo. I definitely need to use the bigger tanks if I dive with Charlie again or his dive gets cut short. I will definitely start with less weight. I was so tired from the first dive that I think it affected the second dive a bit. If I’m better weighted to start with, I won’t wear myself out so much.


Need I say more?

Lordy She’s 40!

I had a great birthday. I took the day off and all I did was eat and sleep. Lisa and Clipper made sure I was well fed. Lisa even made me a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. She decorated it in the car, outside of the bar. That’s true friendship (or she's a little nuts.)

One Whole Year!

Exactly 1 year ago today, I made my final credit card purchase, I paid for my Rescue Diver class. Since then it's been all cash!