Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hangovers, golfing with Satan, and smart tarts

Last night I got an unscheduled migraine that kept me up half the night.  By unscheduled, I mean a migraine other than the one that I get about every 28 days, if ya know what I mean.  That's sort of a drag but at least I can plan for it.  On the upside, my doctor said it would probably go away whenever menopause shows up.  15 years ago that was not very encouraging but now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!  It almost makes me look forward to menopause.  Almost...since I know I'll be losing a migraine but gaining chest hair.  I guess I'm in that perimenopause stage right now where you have all the lovely symptoms of menopause but your monthly visitor hasn't packed up and left town yet.  That's a special kind of hell your mama doesn't tell you about.  I'll rant about that another time.

Today I'm nursing a migraine hangover.  If you've ever had a migraine, you know that the day after sometimes makes you feel like you have an actual hangover from a night of partying.  Without all the bad memories.  Or lack of any memory at all if you spent the evening with Jose Cuervo.  So I've heard.  Anyway, I've never really figured out the best way to deal with those.  If not handled carefully, you risk a rebound migraine and that just tanks.  Usually I just ignore it and let it run its course but it seems to me like someone should come up with a remedy.  For a regular hangover, there's that hair-of-the dog-that-bit-you thing that some people swear by.  So I've heard.  But I'm not sure how that would apply to a hormonally induced migraine.  One Facebook friend suggested lots of water and pot.  I can only assume she meant for me to make it into soup since I wouldn't know what to do with it otherwise.  So I've heard.  When I told another friend about that suggestion, she said "she put that on your wall for everyone to see??"  Yes she did and I really don't have a problem with that since she's not a real life friend and doesn't know me and I'm certainly not going to judge her for just being herself.  What I do have a problem with is my temptation to "like" her post cuz I thought it was funny.  Then later, another Facebook friend who I don't know suggested that migraines could be brought on by low magnesium, especially after a night of drinking.  Now I can't help but wonder if these people who I don't know read my Facebook page and just assume that I'm a pot smoking lush.  Strangely enough, I'm okay with that since it's a heck of a lot more exciting than the truth which is that I'm a chronically depressed slightly neurotic artsy geek who works at a church.  Yawn.

This morning Jayson and I went round and round over golf.  He loves to play golf and Dennis, our pastor, plays every Thursday with a bunch of guys from church.  Jayson is off today and really wanted to join them.  The only problem I have with that is the heat.  Jayson does not tolerate the heat well at all and the older he gets the worse it gets.  It doesn't matter how much water he drinks, if he's out in the heat for very long he will come in and cramp up for 2 days.  I really feel for him because he loves to play but his health is more important...apparently only to me.

Jayson feels like if it's cloudy then it's not as hot and then he can play.  This is south Louisiana.  It's cloudy all the time.  And it's hot all the time.  I don't understand why he can't see this.  Here is our text conversation from this morning:

Me:  At 10 this morning it was 94 degrees.  Stay inside.  If you need inside stuff to do I can give you ideas.

Jayson:  Leave me be.  I saw some clouds earlier and that may be all I need.

Me:  Clouds just lull you into a false sense of coolness.  It's all a lie.  If you go outside you will be sick all weekend.  Man up and do the right thing.

Jayson:  Manning up means I go golfing.

Me:  That's the easy decision.  You have to man up to make the hard decision.

Jayson:  It's getting dark over here so I'm encouraged.

Me:  That's Satan trying to cloud your judgment.  Don't fall for it. (I was so proud of myself for using "cloud".)

Jayson:  But I heard Satan is a golfer.

Me:  He cheats.

Me:  And throws his clubs.

Me:  And doesn't replace his divots.

Jayson:  Well, so does Dennis.

Me:  I'm telling him you said that.

And I did.  And I'm sure they will have a big laugh about it since Jayson did indeed go golfing with Dennis who apparently golfs like Satan.

Since I wasn't feeling 100% today, I decided to take off work early and take care of a few errands that I've been putting off.  First on my list was to stop by the library to pick up an audio book they were holding for me.  I'm a huge Janet Evanovich fan.  I've read everything she's written and have been anxiously awaiting the release of her 16th book in the Stephanie Plum series.  I've even read the cheesy romance novels she did before Stephanie Plum came along.  She has a very dry humor that appeals to me.  And I love the Stephanie Plum novels because I feel like we're kindred spirits.  She's a cute, single 30-something bounty hunter who lives in New Jersey and has two hot guys after her.  Yeah, we're practically twins.

Next on my list of errands was to drive to the DMV in Abbeville to get my registration renewed because it expired at the end of last month and I sort of forgot to take care of that.  Last week I was reminded that I forgot to take care of that by the nice officer who gave me a ticket for having an expired inspection sticker.  Fortunately, he didn't ticket me for the registration but there was no talking my way out of the inspection ticket since the thing expired in December.  About this same time last year I got a ticket for the very same thing.  You would think I'd learn.  I don't know what it is about that silly inspection sticker but I swear I'm blind to it.  On the rare occasion when I do glance at it and see that it's expired, it's never at a convenient time for me to take care of it.  The rest of the time, it doesn't exist to me. 

If you're reading this and you live in the Lafayette area, you probably already know what happened next.  On my way to the DMV I got pulled over again at the Maurice speed trap.  I was not speeding, I know better than that at that particular spot, but Officer Hubble Eyes spotted my expired sticker when I passed him.  I pulled over and by the time he got to my window I already had a hand full of drivers license, proof of insurance, expired proof of registration, a copy of the ticket I got last week, and a gum wrapper.  He said, "Did you know..."  I cut him off right there and started babbling on about how I know my sticker is expired and I already got a ticket for it last week, as if that was a good reason for him not to give me another one.  That should fall under that double jeopardy can't be ticketed twice for the same offense.  (Note to your congressman.)  So I shoved all my paperwork at him and told him in my most sincere voice with my most sincere face that I was on my way to the Abbeville DMV to get my registration renewed since I can't get the inspection sticker without it.  He said, "You're on your way there right now?"  I said, very sincerely, "Yes!  Right now!  That's why I'm here!"  Which later I thought was a really stupid thing to say since it sounded like I would have no other reason to be in Maurice other than to drive through it on my way to the Abbeville DMV.  That's not true.  Villagers is there and I do occasionally need their chili cheese fries.

Officer Hubble Eyes let me go with a stern order to get this taken care of.  Where were all of these helpful officers back in January when the silly sticker was barely expired and I might have been able to talk my way out of it??  I think they ignore you until your sticker is 6-months expired cuz they know there's no way you'll be getting out of that.  I thanked the officer profusely, still wearing my sincere face, and continued my journey to the DMV.  I live in Lafayette so why drive all the way to Abbeville just to go to the DMV when there's one across town?  Because I was in and out of there in less than 10 minutes, that's why.  People from all over the country should fly here to do their DMV business in Abbeville because it's never crowded and you can get in and out quick.

Once I had my renewed registration in hand, I headed straight for the Shell station on Congress to get inspected and get an oil change.  When I pulled in and told her what I needed, the gal who works there told me to leave my driver's license, proof of insurance and registration on the dash while she wrote up my order.  When she looked at my license plate she said, "Did you know your registration expired at the end of last month?"  I said, "Yes I do and I have a brand new one right here!" as I proudly held up my shiny new renewed registration.  I felt like such a big girl.  When she glanced at the inspection sticker I said, "that one's been expired for a while but it only took me one ticket to get it fixed!"  She gave me a little half smile but I could tell what she was thinking.  She was thinking that it's bubble heads like me who make it difficult for women to be taken seriously when it comes to car maintenance.  She's probably right but in my defense, she's sort of a masculine woman and since she changes oil for a living I'm willing to bet that she never gets taken advantage of when she gets her car repaired.  In fact, she probably repairs it herself.  I couldn't help but wonder if maybe she's gay.  Then I wondered if it was a bad thing that I wondered if she was gay.  It wouldn't bother me if she was, I was just pondering the possibility.  Then I thought about if she was gay, would she think I was cute.  At that point I thought it best to pull out my sketchbook and concentrate on my doodles.

Once I was street legal again, I made my way to The Orchard for my final errand.  The Orchard is our local Apple dealer/repair place and I needed to pick up a new power cord for Courtney and a new mouse for myself.  My Mighty Mouse was about 4 years old and had served me well until just recently when it decided it no longer wanted to scroll down.  It would scroll up without any problem at all but not down.  I put up with it for about a month then decided that being able to scroll down is a necessary component of my overall happiness and well being.  I MUST be able to scroll down with my mouse without having to click and drag the little scrolly bar thingie.  That's just not good time management.

I am probably going to offend all kinds of people with this tale because I know some of the Orchard employees and I like and respect them very much but I still feel the need to poke fun at them now and then.  The techs who have come out to help us with our computers at work have all been fantastic, I have no complaints about them.  Right now.  It just so happens that none of them were in the store when I was there today.  I've found that the customer service inside the store has always been a little sub par.  There have been times when I've walked in and several employees were milling around looking like they weren't doing much and none of them asked if I needed help.  It's a computer store.  It's staffed by what I might affectionately call geeks.  I totally understand their being shy or socially awkward.  I'm somewhat of a geek myself, these are my people.  I usually just let it slide and start screaming for help when I need it. 

Today the store was pretty darn crowded and all the salesgeeks were very busy helping other customers.  There was a woman wandering around and I thought she was a customer because she looked a little confused and out of place.  She was young and cute and blond and was wearing a little skirt with a bright green shirt and cute platform sandals that made my bunions ache just looking at them.  I went on about my business and found my new Magic Mouse and the power cord that I thought I needed but I wasn't sure.  All the salesgeeks were still busy with their customers so I started reading the cord's box to try to make sure it was the right one.  In the corner of my eye I saw the green shirt of the girl who by this time I had begun to mentally refer to as "The Tart" even though I know that's tacky and unfair and unwarranted and all that.  It had nothing to do with her character, she just looked so out of place in a computer store that I couldn't help myself.

So The Tart came closer and I saw a cordless phone in her hand.  Then she asked if there was anything she could help me with.  Oh.  She works there.  I mentally chastised myself for judging her based on her looks...then flashed back to the maybe gay gal at the Shell station and decided this was obviously a problem that I need to get a handle on.  I started by telling myself that I shouldn't be thinking of this woman as a tart just because she's young and cute.  She works at a computer store, for goodness sakes!  So I renamed her Smart Tart which nearly made me start laughing right there in front of her because I was picturing her with a name tag that said SmarTart, in the SweeTarts font.  I am ssooooo easily entertained.

I held up the power cord box and asked Smart Tart if it was the right cord for a MacBook Pro that was a couple of years old.  She said she wasn't sure, she's not a sales person but she would find out for me, then she wiggled and jiggled away to find someone with a clue.  She's not a sales person but she offered to help me and she was wandering around with a phone in her hand.  I figured she had to be the owner's girlfriend or something like that.  While waiting for Smart Tart to find someone available to answer my question, one of the salesgeeks broke free and asked if I was ready to check out.  He had on jeans, the official Orchard t shirt and no stilettos so I felt confident enough to hit him with my question about whether or not this was the right cord for a MacBook Pro that was a couple of years old.  Yes indeedy, I had the right cord.  Just about the time I had finished checking out, Not So Smart Tart returned and asked if my question had been answered because she was apparently unable to find anyone to answer it for her.  I assured her that it had and she thanked me for coming in. 

Sweet girl, I felt bad for making fun of her even if I only did it mentally.  Well, I guess I'm making fun of her here too, but since no one actually reads my blog that should be okay.  Besides, I wasn't in a good place because I had a migraine hangover, I had to run all these not fun errands, I got pulled over in Podunk, I discovered that I judge people based on their looks, and all I really wanted to do was go home and see what kind of trouble Stephanie Plum gets into and whether she hooks up with Ranger or with Joe Morelli this time.  That makes her a Plum Tart.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dry spells, drugs and literature

It's been a week since my last post and I find that I have absolutely nothing to say.  Maybe this is the reason all my blogs have died.  I can say everything I need to say in less than a dozen posts.  If I get hit by a bus tomorrow, I guess I'll go out knowing that I said everything I had to say so I was pretty much done with life anyway.

I must having a dry spell.  Or maybe the people around me are having a dry spell because they're not doing anything I can make fun of and that's just sad.  I went to the library after work to pick up a couple of books to distract myself from doing the things that really need to be done, and there wasn't even a pair of random panties on the floor.  I miss the days of random panties in the middle of the public library.  Good times.

Since I have nothing to say but feel the need to say something anyway, I'll just give you a transcript of my stream of consciousness.  Right now I'm thinking about Laurie Notaro and how dang funny she is.  I suppose I'm thinking about her because I was just at the library and was looking for one her books called The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death: Reflections on Revenge, Germophobia, and Laser Hair Removal.  How can you not love a book with that title?  I haven't even read it yet and it's already one of my favorites.  Her books are sort of a collection of essays about her daily life.  She can make even the most mundane tasks seem gut-bustingly funny.  She's written a couple of fiction books as well but I haven't read them, although I've been tempted by the one called There's a (Slight) Chance I Might be Going to Hell.

Yes, I do sometimes choose books to read based on a catchy title or even an eye-catching cover.  Sometimes it pays off, sometimes not so much.  I just can't be bothered to spend a whole 15 seconds reading the summary from the cover flap.  Who has time for that nonsense?  My philosophy is if I like the title font, I'll probably like the book.  When I'm on a reading binge, I'll go through about a book a week.  That may have something to do with my obsessive/compulsive nature that rears its ugly head now and then.  Fortunately, it does not infiltrate all aspects of my life all the time, thanks to several prescriptions that I take religiously.  As long as I am well medicated, I can appear almost normal if you don't look real close.

And yes, I am well medicated at all times and I feel absolutely no shame or guilt about that.  In fact, I consider it a public service.  It has very little to do with me, it's all about you.  Yes, it is my civic duty to make sure I am not unleashed on the general public without a substantial amount of mood altering drugs in my system.  It's just safer for everyone that way.  

A couple of years ago I went on a church women's retreat without benefit of my medications.  That's right, I was au naturale.  The event started on a Friday evening and I realized too late in the day that my prescriptions were out.  All I had to do was make it through the weekend so I could call in my refills on Monday morning.  I almost made it...I was SO close!  I got back from the retreat on Sunday afternoon and was sitting on the couch telling Jayson about the weekend and all the women that were there and all the great things that happened.  In the middle of my heartfelt story, Jayson stops me, looks out the patio door and says, "wow, look at that spider web."  

In retrospect, I understand that he was not ignoring me, he was just temporarily distracted by what must have been the most incredible spider web in the universe.  I understand distractions, I have my own attention deficit issues.  I understand how my husband operates and that he was doing his best to be an attentive listener while I babbled on.  I understand all of this...when I am appropriately medicated.  At the time I was not and I did not and I lost it.  I stomped off into the bedroom intending to change clothes and go to bed because it was a retreat weekend which means I was up all night for 2 nights in a row so I was sleepy and I needed to pout.  

On my way into the bedroom I reached for my wrist so that I could take off my watch and I discovered that my watch wasn't there.  This sent me spiraling into a panic.  Where was my watch??  Did I have it on earlier?  When did I last see it?  Did I take it off to shower and leave it laying somewhere?  Is it still in the dorms at Tall Timbers?  Did someone take it?  If I go back to get it will it still be there?  If I call and ask them to look for it, will one of the employees find it and keep it for themselves?  What do I do?  Is this some kind of sign that I'm too focused on time and I need to let go of it before it takes over my life?  Is time my cosmic enemy?  Do I need a breath mint?  These are the thoughts of a crazy person...or of me sans drugs.

In a manic panic, I stormed back into the living room and dumped the contents of my purse and overnight bag into the middle of the floor, desperately searching for my watch.  In my own defense, I need to say that this was not a Swatch.  This watch would be considered a dressy watch even though I wear it every day.  It's something I could not afford to replace which somewhat justifies my overreaction in my mind.  Although in my state of mind at that time, I could have had that same meltdown over a misplaced paper clip.  In the middle of my frantic searching, Jayson asked what I was doing and I told him between gasping sobs, "I-I-I c-c-can't f-f-f-f-find my wwaaaaaaatttcchh!!!"  I went out to the car to see if maybe it had fallen off in there and when I came back inside I heard Jayson tell Taylor, "Mom's having a meltdown, stay in your room."  

I was convinced that I had left my watch at Tall Timbers and needed to go back to get it.  Jayson suggested I call first.  Sounds logical, right?  Wrong.  That sounded to me like the most ridiculously offensive idea I had ever heard.  Not only would I risk someone stealing my watch, but it was obvious to me that Jayson didn't even believe me, he probably though I never even had a watch to begin with and I was making up this whole entire drama just for the fun of it.  Everyone was out to get me.

I explained to Jayson (in screaming hysterical sobs) that I needed to go back to Tall Timbers immediately to get my watch.  I knew I was too upset to drive those 80 miles on my own so I asked him if he would go with me.  Jayson, being the highly intelligent man that he his, agreed to the trip without  hesitation.  That must have been his survival instincts kicking in.  I went into the bedroom to put my shoes on so we could leave and when I glanced at the shelf where I keep my jewelry box I saw my watch lying right there on top.  When I came in from the retreat I must have gone straight to my closet to take off my shoes and I took my watch off at the same time.  I guess.  I still have no memory of removing the watch.

I went back into the living room and told Jayson (in slightly less than hysterical sobs) that I found my watch and was going to bed.  I stayed there until the pharmacy opened the next day.  That whole event was just a valuable reminder for my family that mommy needs her medications.  Any time I get a little bent out of shape, Taylor will ask in a soft sweet voice, "Mom, did you take your medicine?"  If I didn't, she wouldn't need to ask.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Exotic travel destinations in Arkansas

Jayson needs a vacation so I'm in the process of figuring out where we can go and what we can do that won't cost us more than about 10 bucks.  I love a challenge!  We're not one of those families who takes a vacation every summer, mainly because we're not smart enough to save up for it.  I don't work full time so I don't have that "need" to get away like Jayson does so it's just not a priority for me.  Besides, I'm a homebody anyway which is just a nice way to say I have hermit tendencies that would have impressed Howard Hughes.

It may have something to do with the way we were raised as well.  Jayson's family liked to go camping which does afford you more economical vacation options when you own your own equipment.  Of course, they lived in North Dakota so camping in the surrounding states was probably a very pleasant experience.  I grew up in North Texas.  Summertime camping in the surrounding states was equivalent to the seventh level of hell.  I'm pretty sure Dante was camping in Oklahoma when he wrote "Inferno".

That's not to say I haven't been anywhere. We did take a couple of random vacations while I was growing up and Jayson and I have been a few places as well.  Our trips are just few and far between. 

The first family vacation I can remember was when we drove to Kentucky in the 70s to visit a friend my parents met on their CB radio.  Just about the only thing I remember about that trip was visiting the Jack Daniels distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee.  Maybe it's a good thing we didn't take too many vacations back then since my parents seem to have had trouble choosing family appropriate destinations.  I guess I should be thankful they didn't take us to visit Uncle Escobar's "farm" in Columbia.

When I was a freshman in high school, my dad had to go to an AOSC (Association of Oilwell Contractors) meeting in Hawaii.  He and my grandfather owned their own businesses and my grandfather had already been to Hawaii and hated it. (Freak)  So, poor Dad was forced to go in his stead.  No way was my mom letting him go without her and no way was she leaving me and my sister alone for a week (it was a control thing, not a love thing).  So...they pulled us out of school and we spent a week in Maui and Kauai.  Gotta admit, that was a pretty sweet trip.

Then when I was a senior in high school one of my teachers was taking a group of students and adults on a 3-week trip of western Europe.  Dad had no interest in touring Europe (or being stuck with my mother for 3 weeks), but the oil boom had been very good to us so he sent me, my mom and my sister on the trip.  We hit all the hot spots in England, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands.  It wasn't until years later that I truly appreciated that trip and understood how fortunate we were to have been able to do that. 

A few years later I married Jayson and we took a cruise to the Virgin Islands for our honeymoon.  I hope we can take another cruise someday.  The destination doesn't even matter, I just loved being on the ship.  Where else can sit sideways on the potty, lean back and rest your head on your bed, then straighten your legs out into the shower?  Our whole room was about the size of an airplane bathroom but that didn't even matter because every night at dinner there was a new ice sculpture.

As luck would have it, Jayson's parents live in Florida so we've been to Disney World and the other surrounding theme parks 4 times.  I'm somewhat anti-social and I certainly don't like crowds or being out in the heat...but...I LOVE Disney World.  It's my happy place.  The Wonderful World of Disney was my childhood escape every Sunday at 6 p.m. right after Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom.  Sing it: "Mutual of Omaha is people you can count on when the going's roughhhhhh".

In 1998 Jayson was working for a local oilfield company that had a plant in central China where they made some of their parts.  They needed him to go visit the plant and show the workers how to assemble the finished product that uses the parts they were making so they'd have a better understanding of what they were doing and why.  The company paid for both Jayson and I to spend 2 weeks in China, all expenses paid.  He had to work for 4 hours of that trip.  We spent several days seeing the sights in Beijing then took a train to Zi'an to see the terra cotta soldiers.  From there we flew to Wuhan then a company driver picked us up and drove us to the plant in Jungzhou.  That's where Jayson had to "work" while I shopped with my own personal driver and translator.  After a couple of days there, we flew to Hong Kong for a few days before going home.  Yeah, that was rough business trip, let me tell ya.  I kept a detailed journal on that trip that I might post here one day if I can't think of anything else to say.  It's a loooonnnng journal (like 12 typewritten pages) but it includes stories about getting drunk, eating a pig's ear, and running into a very naked Troy Aikman.

A couple of years in later in 2000 that same company sent both of us (I'm still not sure how or why I got to go but I'm not complaining) to Calgary, Canada for an oil convention.  Jayson actually had to work the convention for several days so I'd stop in to visit him when I could fit it in to my busy schedule.  We had a rental car just sitting in the hotel's garage while he was working, so I got myself a map, jumped in the car and drove all over Calgary.  I went shopping, went to some art supply stores, had lunch at a funky cafe, etc.  The streetcar stopped next to our hotel, so one morning I hopped on that and spent the day at the Calgary Zoo.  When the convention was over we had a couple of extra days before our flight so we drove up to Banff and played in the Canadian Rockies.  We took a gondola to the top of a mountain and had lunch with million dollar view.  Then we drove to Lake Louise and were awestruck at the beauty of the emerald water.  It really does look like the pictures you see.

We didn't vacation again until 2007 when one of Jayson's vendors offered up his condo in Destin for us too use.  Jayson's position as a buyer for Expro often means that vendors are willing to give him gifts and schmooze him in the hopes that he will buy more from them.  He makes it very clear to them that company policy prohibits him from accepting their gifts and they will in no way influence his decision on whether or not to do business with them.  Besides, we don't have room to store any more of those gifts he refuses to accept.  With that understanding, this vendor insisted we use his condo with no strings attached.  Who were we to refuse?  We spent a week at the Tops'l Resort on Miramar Beach.  We enjoyed the condo which was way nicer than our house, we played in the sugar white sands on the beach and we played tennis on their world class rubico courts.  I asked Jayson about that guy the other day and he said he's no longer a vendor.  I cried.

Have you noticed how all our previous vacations sort of fell into our laps for free?  I tend to prefer that arrangement but, alas, the trend must end.  Jayson is need of a vacation this year (like NOW) so we're scrambling for something to do.  Taylor usually goes to Honduras during the summer to scuba dive but there was some scheduling confusion this year so it didn't work out.  She's oddly okay with that so that just leaves me with trying to figure out what we should do.  We want to drive someplace but not someplace that will take days and days to get there.  We want to take a week off and don't want to spend most of it in the car.  We also don't want to go anywhere in Texas or Louisiana.  Jayson wants to go someplace new but not too far and on the cheap.  Sure, no problem.  Actually, lodging will be easy since he has about a dozen free hotel nights because of business trips to places including Alaska, Kazakhstan, Scotland, and the Netherlands...none of which included me.  So, what destination will we be adding to our impressive list of exotic travel sites??  Isn't it obvious?  Arkansas!!

That's right, we're planning a little trip up to northern Arkansas sometime around the end of July.  Maybe.  We haven't hashed out that little detail yet and neither of us has scheduled time off of work either.  We'll work that out.  If we're going all the way to northern Arkansas, why not just go on up to Branson, you might ask?  Because Branson is a common vacation destination and the Greens are not common.  We're quirky and offbeat and that's the kind of vacation we want.  Oh sure, we'll do some of the regular touristy things in the area, but I've been looking for some of the more unusual, off-the-beaten-path things to do.  Arkansas is a veritable mecca for the offbeat and unusual. 

Our tentative plan, subject to change depending on my mood, is to drive from here to Texarkana where we'll stop at the Federal Building to take a picture.  The building straddles the Texas/Arkansas border and there's a photo op there where you can stand in both states at the same time and snap a pic.  That's just cheesy fun which is the whole point of our trip so we can't very well pass that up.  Besides, we have to stop for lunch somewhere and it just happens to be on the way.

Our next stop, again because we just happen to be going through there, will likely be a potty break in Hope, Arkansas.  I have absolutely no desire to see Bill Clinton's birthplace but I do, however, have a desire to see an exact replica of the world's largest watermelon grown right there in Hope...the watermelon capital of the world!  We just can't pass that up.

About an hour from Hope is Murfreesboro, where we can stop at the Crater of Diamonds State Park to dig for our own diamonds.  After we've dug up enough rocks to pay off our mortgage, we'll continue to Hot Springs where we'll park it for a few days at the nearest Holiday Inn Express.

Hot Springs should be a good mix of regular vacation stuff as well as some cheesy fun.  Of course we will have to visit the Hot Springs National Park and the Mountain Tower as well as Bath House Row.  We might even spend a day relaxing in the thermal waters in one of the spas since we'll probably need it after all the strenuous diamond mining we'll do.  We'll also visit Tiny Town, a little world made out of recycled junk, and we might drop by the Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo.  You might be asking yourself why I would want to go to an alligator farm when I have them in my own backyard?  I could care less about the alligators, but this particular place has a merman on display.  A real, honest to goodness merman!  That just can't be missed. 

If we're in the mood to dig for more treasure, we'll hit one of the quartz mines in the area before hitting the road again.  We'll head to Redfield, Arkansas to have lunch at the Mammoth Orange Cafe.  Because it's funky looking, that's why.  Then on to Little Rock to see Pugh's Mill which is actually not a mill at all but a sculpture that can be seen briefly in the opening sequence of Gone With The Wind.   As we continue north, we'll make another stop along the way in Dover, Arkansas to see the double decker outhouse and have a boogerburger at the Booger Hollow Trading Post.  The booger jokes alone are enough to lure us there.  Then it's on to Eureka Springs where we'll spend the rest of our time.

While in Eureka Springs we'll visit the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge to see the big cats eat.  We may drive over to Fayetteville to Terra Studios to watch them blow glass and make pottery.  We'll take in some of the cool local architecture by visiting Thorncrown Chapel, St. Elizabeth's and The Quigley's Castle.  We may even go to the Blue Spring Heritage Center for a dose of local culture.

Our main goal for the Eureka Springs area is to visit as many of the local caves as we can.  We went to Carlsbad Caverns several years ago and it was just a nice, relaxing thing to do...strolling through the caves and seeing some really amazing cavey stuff.'s nice and cool down there.  We're looking at the Bull Shoals Caverns, Blanchard Springs, Onyx Cave, Old  Spanish Treasure Cave, Cosmic Caverns, Mystic Cavern and Crystal Dome, and War Eagle Cavern.  Several of the state-owned caves have been closed recently to try to prevent the spread of white nose syndrome which is killing bats up along the east coast.  I certainly don't want bats to die needlessly from white noses so we'll make sure we blow before we go.

There is one attraction in Eureka Springs that is the ultimate cheese but I can't make myself go there.  It's The Great Passion Play featuring The Living Bible Tour, The Sacred Arts Museum, the Top of The Mountain Dinner Theater and Christ of the Ozarks which is a 67' tall really bad sculpture of Jesus.  I can just imagine that whole experience would provide enough bloggable entertainment to keep me busy for weeks, but I have a couple of problem with it.  One, it's expensive.  I can't justify paying $60/person to watch a bunch of people make my Jesus look bad.  They're not making fun of Him or anything and that's probably the bad part.  In their efforts to be serious, they're coming off as ridiculous which makes it even harder to convince people that us Christians are not all freaks.  Just some are and the rest of us don't like them.  And I'm not against poking a little fun at religion as long as it's not done maliciously.  I think Jesus has a fantastic sense of humor which is probably the only reason that horrible sculpture hasn't been struck by lightening.  I also don't want to give money to a theme park that was built by a white supremacist who said the holocaust never happened.  I'm just quirky that way!

Whenever we get tired of touring caves and absorbing the ambiance of Eureka Springs, we'll make our way back home with maybe one stop on the way.  If we time it right, we might stop at Riddle's Elephant and Wildlife  Sanctuary in Greenbrier, Arkansas.  They offer these "elephant experience weekends" which sound pretty cool but are way out of our budget so we're going to try to tour them on Visitor's Day which is the first Saturday of every month.  If we plan it right, that shouldn't be a problem.  And elephants are cool.

So that's the plan as of right now and I sure hope everything works out so that we can go.  I have a feeling this trip will make those 2 weeks we spent in China look like a trip

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Daring Dumpster Diving Diva

Yesterday when I got to work there was a message on my desk about a dumpster behind Blackham Coliseum that appeared to have some wood and metal furniture in it.  Apparently Cristy Mast spotted the dumpster and felt I need to know about it.  She was SO right.  I need to know about all dumpsters, yard sales, and curbside trash heaps that might be hiding treasures.

I looked at the note off and on all day until I was finally able to make my escape from the office around 4:45.  It's not like I'm required to wait for the 5:00 whistle or anything like that, I just had a lot to do and couldn't get away any earlier.  Remember, I work at a church and I swear sometimes it feels like Sunday comes at least once a week.  Sheeeesh.

Fortunately, I was already appropriately dressed for dumpster diving since I'd been working on a display for Sunday's service: an 8' question mark.  Of course that makes it sound like at another time I would be dressed in such a way that would not be conducive to digging through trash.  This is not the case.  I'm pretty much always dressed for an impromptu garbage gala and I'm at a point in my life where I'm completely comfortable with that.

So I headed for Blackham just before 5:00 when the temperature was in the mid 90s with 347% humidity.  Perfect.  Since I didn't know exactly where the dumpster was located, I entered from the Cajundome Drive side and drove around, keeping a vigil eye opened for my target.  Naturally, it was all the way around the other side which was really to my advantage since there's not as much traffic on that side.  I pulled up as close as I could to the side of the dumpster, knowing that I would probably have to climb up on top of my car to see inside.  This was one of those construction dumpsters, not the super huge kind but much larger than your average alley dumpster.  The thing was probably 7-8 feet tall and, of course, the cheesy metal rungs that are supposed to be the ladder were all rusted and broken.

Not wanting to climb all over my car if I could avoid it, I grabbed the top edge of the dumpster and climbed up on the metal ledge that was on one end of it about half way up.  This at least gave me a ledge to stand on while I surveyed the contents.

Construction dumpsters are some of my favorites since they can contain anything from sheet rock to glass blocks and they usually have very little "organic" trash in them.  I can deal with the occasional fast food bag or even a wet cardboard box, but anything ickier than that will scare me off in a hurry.

I saw lots of broken furniture, most of it was particle board or "Lee Press-On Wood", as my sister would call it.  There was some cardboard, something that looked like sheet rock, and I saw some metal chair legs sticking up at the other end.  Since the items were much too large for me to move around by just leaning over the side and I knew the good stuff would be in the middle anyway (it always is), I leaned forward, swung a leg up over the edge and hauled myself into the dumpster.

I made my way over to the chairs and saw that they were some old office chairs.  One was a like a secretary's chair on wheels and I remember my grandfather having a similar one in his office when I was a kid.  When I moved some stuff out of the way to get a better look, I was suddenly hit with the unmistakable odor of dead animal.  If you've ever had a 3 pound rat die in your attic in North Texas in the middle of August, you would know the smell I'm talking about, you never forget it.  Common sense told me it was probably a little dead mouse or something so I looked down to make sure that I wasn't standing right next to it.  This was the first time I saw the bottom of the dumpster and it was a good 3-4 feet below my own feet.  I was perched on top of so much furniture and junk that I was no where near the bottom of the dumpster.

It was then that it dawned on me that I could step through something and break my leg and be stuck in this dumpster with the dead whatever that smelled so bad my eyes were watering.  And what if I fell all the way to the bottom where I couldn't see out?  I realized that all this time I had been climbing on top of this stuff so that I could still see over the top edge of the dumpster.  But what if I was at the bottom with a broken leg, a head injury and a ruptured spleen?  I wouldn't be able to see over the edge of my huge steel coffin.  And what if I broke my iPhone in the fall??  That's it, I was done.

The lure of the old office chair wasn't enough to keep my imagination in check so I figured that was my cue that I didn't need it.  I decided not to go out the same way I got in since I would be risking that broken leg, head injury, ruptured spleen, and the broken iPhone.  Since I was closer to my car, I swung my legs over the edge and eased myself down onto the top of my car...until the metal started to buckle under my weight.  That is one dent I did NOT want to have to explain to Jayson, so I stepped off of the car and onto the top of the tire before any real damage was done.

I headed home, a little disappointed that I didn't find any goodies this time but already looking forward to the next time a friend calls and says they saw some trash I need to dig through.  That makes me feel loved.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Honduras Revisited

A couple of years ago Jayson and I went on a mission trip to Honduras to drill water wells in communities without access to clean drinking water.  The trip included the two of us, Chad and Jamie Thibodeaux, Ralph Picou, Vance Henry, and Brian Wright from our church.  It also included Todd Elder (the Living Water team leader) and George Armisted from Houston as well as Bob and Carolyn Easley from some Kentucky-ish state, I can't remember exactly.  Last week Vance Henry passed away so I've been thinking about this trip a lot since that's where we really got to know him.  It's amazing how chronic vomiting and diarrhea can cause a group of people to bond.

George, Shannon, Jayson, Brian, Vance, Chad, Ralph, Bob, Carolyn, Jamie
Since Vance and this trip have been on my mind for the past several days, I thought I'd write about it.  Again.  Yes, I did start a blog shortly after our trip so I could share all our fun experiences.  And in true Shannon fashion, I posted 3 or 4 times then got bored and abandoned it.  I think my mistake was trying to write a separate post for each day of the trip.  I probably got overwhelmed and shut down.  To prevent that from happening again, I'm going to summarize the whole week-long trip in one extremely long, wordy and probably coma-inducing post.  Problem solved!

This was my first mission trip, Jayson's 3rd.  He and Chad had been on several other drilling trips to other Central American countries but this time they both brought their wives along.  It worked out great since the 4 of us get along really well and Chad and Jayson tend to get into trouble when left unsupervised. 

Keep in mind that this was 2 years ago and although I did keep a journal during the trip, my journals really aren't good for much of anything.  I write down bits and pieces of stuff that makes perfect sense at the time but when I go back and read it later I have no idea what I was talking about.  You would think that knowing this might prompt me to change the way I journal.  Yeah, not so much.

The flight from Houston to San Pedro Sula, Honduras was just under 3 hours long which is not bad at all.  I sat between Jayson and some guy who didn't speak English and looked like a Mexican Gida.  You would have to know my Gida (Lebanese for grandfather) to understand this and then you would be amused.  I thought maybe Mexican Gida was from Honduras and was on his way back home, but after a lot of sign language, my really bad Spanish and his really bad English, I discovered that he was from Jersey City and was going on vacation to Honduras.  Okay.  It was an honest mistake.  After all, I'm sure people from New Jersey get mistaken for Honduran nationals all the time. 

I wasn't exactly buying Mexican Gida's vacation story but he was a funny little man and was sticking with his story so I let it go.  We were served a little breakfast on the flight and when Mexican Gida saw that I wasn't eating anymore he asked, in broken English mixed with a lot of gesturing, if I was going to eat my cardboard muffin.  I said no and offered it to him and he eagerly accepted.  I couldn't imagine how hungry I would have to be to eat food off a stranger's tray on an airplane.  Jersey City my eye.

Before we landed, I decided to leave a little guerrilla art on the plane.  I doodled all over an airsick bag wrote "Have a First Class Hurl - Compliments of Continental Airlines" on it.  I put it back in the little seat pocket hoping it would put a smile on the face of the next person who puked in it.

Honduran child and baby
There were several times during our trip when we found ourselves doing a lot of waiting, whether it was in line at customs, at a drill site waiting for parts, or just that general standing around and waiting for the mood to strike you to move as is popular in Central America.  We came up with creative ways to pass the time while waiting.  While in line at the airport waiting to go through customs, Jayson and I tried to guess which page of our passport the agent would stamp.  He guessed page 8 for his and they stamped page 8.  I was indecisive and guessed either  page 8 or 9 for mine.  They stamped page 8 and stapled my customs form to page 9.  Then we discussed whether or not  our supply container made it in one piece and if it did would the lid still be attached.  We guessed that the container probably made it just fine and the lid would still be attached but a few of the zip ties would probably be missing.  Sure enough, the container made it and the lid was still on it but 2 zip ties were gone.  Uncanny.

Vance brushing at the drilling site.
We made it through customs with no problems at all but Chad and Jamie got stopped for a random bag search.  The young agent had the misfortune to choose to search the bag where Jamie had packed all her girlie supplies.  In the interest of limited space, she took her supplies out of their box and sort of stuffed them in pockets and around the other clothes.  It's just what we do sometimes.  The agent, who wasn't exactly fluent in English, picked up a tampon, looked at Jamie and said, "candy??"  Jamie said, "no...not candy...that's for *me*", while pointing to herself to gesture that it was something personal.  The agent said, "candy??"  Again, Jamie tried to delicately explain that it was a personal item for her.  The agent just wasn't getting it and kept insisting that it was candy.  Finally, another agent who was very entertained by this whole exchange, did a little translating for the young agent who tossed the tampon back into the suitcase, turned bright red and waved them through.  I am SO sorry I didn't get to witness that personally.

Loading the party bus!
Our in-country representatives picked us up at the airport in a very new, very nice and very air conditioned little bus.  We were on a mission trip in Central America, we were totally aware of the kind of transportation and accommodations we could expect.  We were prepared to make the 4 hour trip from the airport to the hotel in the back of a pickup with a dozen chickens.  Instead we got a limo bus.  Things were looking really good for us!  We decided that if the hotel was really bad, we would be more than comfortable spending the whole week in the bus.

The Widowmaker
In Central America, "hotel" covers a lot of territory, you just never know, so our hotel in Saba was another pleasant surprise.  It was actually fairly decent and hotel-ish.  Our room had a little air conditioning unit that had its own remote control, it was practically a Four Seasons Resort dream.  The next morning I was hit with a little reality as I stood in the shower stall staring up at the shower head, which is also affectionately called a "widowmaker".  The shower head is wired for electricity and is plugged into an outlet (that's maybe 8 inches away) so that the water is heated just before it comes out of the shower head.  There is a switch on the widowmaker you have to flip in order to turn it on.  Are you seeing the potential for disaster (and death) here?  I am already afraid of electricity but when you add a little water to it I get particularly twitchy.  So there I stood in the shower, staring up at the widowmaker, wondering how long I could go without showering before someone noticed.  There was no way in hell, heaven or earth I was going to touch that thing so I had a quick conversation with God.  I told Him that I was about to turn on the water and I would shower in whatever came out of that thing, hot or cold, but obviously I preferred hot if He was feeling generous.  Evidently He was because the water was warm enough to be comfortable...even though if I accidentally got some in my mouth I could potentially die.  I tried not to focus on that too much.  By the way, brushing your teeth with bottled water is more challenging than you might think.

A man on his porch in Sonaguera
During breakfast (beans and tortillas) Vance stood up to tell us a story and he blew out his back in a big way.  It was wrenched so bad he was bent in half and couldn't straighten up.  There was a pharmacy across the street so he went over there and the "doctor" gave him a "recipe".  It was probably some kind of funky Honduran Lortab but it eased the pain so that he was feeling much better in a couple of days.

Sonaguera school room
Jamie and I really wanted to help the drilling teams, but we'd decided that if we were fortunate enough to drill somewhere near some kids, we'd probably rather spend time with them so we brought some little crafty supplies and toys just in case.  Our first drill site was at a small school in Sonaguera (which means war zone) in a very poor community.  We would be around kids all day every day, this was good!  The school was very modest and the kids were all very obviously impoverished.  Despite all that, they were very happy, friendly children and we immediately fell in love with all of them.  The bathrooms at the school looked like some kind of solitary confinement chamber in a Chinese prison which was going to be interesting since Jamie and I both had "candy".  Jamie, Carolyn and I taught the kids how to make simple bracelets out of yarn and ended up giving our leftover supplies to a single mom with 6 children.  Her husband had cheated on her and when her brothers found out they killed him.  She bakes bread and sells it and now hopes to sell the bracelets we taught her to make so that she can support her children.  That kind of thing will give you a little bit different perspective on your own life, let me tell ya.
Our  in-country team drove us to a park in Tocoa where I had the best strawberry cheesecake ice cream I've ever had in my life.  We couldn't decide what made it so good, maybe a lack of preservatives or maybe they used goat's milk or cat's milk or something.  It was amazingly rich and creamy. 

The in-country folks were a lot of fun and very helpful.  Emilio, who led the drilling teams, was very charismatic and outgoing.  I thought he was Garifuna but when I asked he said his family is from the Cayman Islands and he is not black.  He started babbling on about Columbus and slaves and about how if he went to Africa he would be eaten.  Yadira, who led the hygiene training, just rolled her eyes at Emilio and said he's crazy cuz he's just as black as the Africans are.  The whole thing was really pretty hilarious.  Nugget was sort of the helper/errand boy and apparently was named for his love of chicken nuggets.  He also has 80 brothers and sisters (not an exaggeration, his dad was very...busy) so he's probably just glad his parents remembered to name him at all.

We spent another day drilling at the little school, playing with kids, blowing bubbles, doing crafts, hygiene training and just loving that little community.  Over the next few days, 8 out of our 11 team members started taking turns being sick with some pretty serious tummy issues.  We're not sure exactly where it came from...maybe the hotel was washing our dishes in their water or maybe it was in the lunches at the drill sit that were made by some women in the Sonaguera.  We were all very diligent with the hand sanitizer and a couple of us brought Cipro along so no one stayed down for longer than 24 hours.
Juan Carlos

The drilling team hit water but also hit solid rock at 30' deep.  The recovery rate was not enough to make a viable well so we were forced to pull casing and call it done.  It was heartbreaking for the whole team, we so desperately wanted this little school to have fresh water.  It was extremely difficult to leave those children no better off than when we got there.  I was especially fond of a little boy named Juan Carlos who brought me oranges one day.  He was such a cutie and already a schmoozer.

Emilio arranged for us to drill at another school not far from the last one.  This school was in a much more affluent area of Sonaguera and had 500 kids!  We so did NOT have enough yarn for 500 kids so we'd have to figure something else out.  Drilling was slow getting started because of some minor problems with the rig that had to be repaired.  This school was much more structured than the last one so we didn't get to spend a lot of time with the kids.  Apparently at this school they had to actually attend class.  Jamie, Carolyn and I passed the time by seeing who could smack their gum the loudest.

Jamie and I learned the hard way that when someone is speaking to you in a language you don't understand, it's not always a good idea to just smile and nod since you never know what you're agreeing to.  Apparently we accidentally agreed to teach English classes to 4th, 5th and 6th graders.  We couldn't have been more surprised when the English teacher handed us his notebook and a couple of dry erase markers and led us into a classroom full of children looking to us for cultural enrichment.  We were both so totally out of our element and had no clue what to do, but we made it up as we went along and I guess it went okay.  The kids seemed to enjoy it and the teacher didn't yell at us.

It took us a couple of days but we were able to complete a successful well at this school.  During our time there, we enjoyed lunches of beans and rice and boiled green bananas which tasted oddly like a potato if you closed your eyes, held your nose and had an actual potato hidden in your pocket.  One boiled banana is enough to last anyone a lifetime but they kept showing up meal after meal.  Eventually we began to refer to them as albino turds. 

During our down times, we played with the kids at recess and Juan Carlos even showed up one day on his bicycle.  Chad and Jayson found various ways to keep themselves entertained and the kids in trouble.  Chad ran around the schoolyard trying to slap a random pig that was rooting through the trash.  Then Chad and Jayson saw some kids swinging from palm fronds and they thought that looked like a good idea so they joined them.  I don't think it's a coincidence that Jayson ended up with a torn rotator cuff a few months later.   La Professora (the principal) yelled at some kids who climbed up on the roof to get a frisbee because Jayson told them to.  Oops.

The little blue church where we peed.
Although this school was much nicer than the first one, the bathrooms were worse and often padlocked.  In case you're wondering, I don't have some kind of morbid fascination with bathrooms, I have IBS so this is an important subject to me.  Here's how the bathrooms work.  The whole town of Sonaguera gets running water for one hour each day 4-5 p.m.  During that time, everyone fills up whatever containers they have with this water which is not suitable for drinking.  The school had a large concrete vat next to their row of "teacher" bathrooms (which were like porta potties, yes they're outside) that would fill up during that hour when the water was on.  Remember, these were the staff bathrooms...the nice ones.  Each bathroom stall had an empty paint bucket in it that you would fill with water from the vat and carry into your stall to flush.  Apparently...flushing is optional which forced us to seek refuge at the bathrooms of a neighborhood church once or twice.  They were the same type of facility, just less frequently visited if you know what I mean.  That arrangement was working well until Chad decided to take care of some serious business in the church bathroom.  We never went back again, we figured we would NOT be welcome.

Our last work day was the well dedication and also happened to be Jamie's birthday.  The teachers made a birthday cake for her and fed us what they called "tacos".  They were deep fried tortillas filled with chicken and covered with a red sauce and parmesan, which they called white cheese.  I'm not sure if they were really as good as I remember, or if anything would have been good after a week of albino turds.  The teachers served us in a classroom and covered the serving table with what was probably their best paper had holly and Christmas candles all over it.  How sweet is that? 

I really wanted to know how to make their tacos so Yadira translated while one of the teachers gave me the recipe.  I was furiously writing down everything Yadira translated for me when I finally realized that she was giving me instructions on how to make tortillas.  She went on and on and on about the tortilla making process and I just didn't have the heart to tell her that we can buy those already made.  What I really wanted to know was what was in the sauce.  It's something called adobo sauce, which apparently they can buy like ketchup and they were completely surprised that I had no idea what they were talking about.  Yadira said the sauce is tomatoes, onions, water and cumin.  I have a feeling there's more to it than that but I think Yadira was feeling sorry for me because I couldn't buy it already made like they can...sorta like how I was feeling about the tortillas.  That's okay, it's not like I'm ever going to actually try to make them.  I just wanna know how.

Jamie on the virtual zip line
The final day of our trip was supposed to be for some relaxation time at a hotel on the beach.  Because of the problems with our first well, we ended working a day longer than we were scheduled to so we lost our relaxation day.  We were a little bummed about missing out on the zip line, but we had an enjoyable evening anyway.  Jamie did get to enjoy a virtual zip line thanks to an advertisement poster in the hotel. 

Two peas in a pod with no common sense
The Hotel Canadian in Sambo Creek just outside La Cieba is right on the beach and quite a bit more upscale than the one in Saba.  There was actually a sign next to the potty in our room instructing us to flush the toilet paper and NOT put it in the wastebasket...which is totally opposite from the Honduran norm.  It was raining like crazy when we got there but that didn't stop Chad and Jayson from taking a dip in both the ocean and the hotel's pool.  We were served a delicious shrimp dinner by the hotel's owner, who if I remember correctly was French Canadian.  She had a fascinating story about how she ended up owning a hotel in Honduras but I can't for the life of me remember it.  Dang my journaling skills.

We had an early flight out the next day and an uneventful trip back to civilization.  At the Houston airport we said our goodbyes to the Houston team then grabbed a bite to eat.  I actually enjoyed all the beans and rice we were served during the week so I wasn't really craving anything except non-toxic ice and a slightly less deadly showering experience.

It was a great trip and I'm especially glad we got to know and spend some time with Vance.  What were the big things I learned on this trip?  1. Never complain about any aspect of my life because I am blessed well beyond what I deserve.  2. Treasure every moment spent with a friend.  3. Never let my candy run loose in the suitcase when traveling overseas.   

Thursday, June 03, 2010

How acid shaped my childhood

Last night I had dinner at Deano's with some friends to celebrate Michelle LaFleur's "29th" birthday. I was sitting next to Kristen Freitas and overheard her telling someone how she and Felipe recently rented a couple of movies: Precious and Where the Wild Things Are. Choosing those two particular movies at the same time seemed a little...schizophrenic to me but who am I to judge?

Kristen went on to describe how she almost couldn't finish watching one of the movies because she found it so disturbing and frightening.  She said she wanted to turn it off but for some reason just couldn't look away.  She said it was by far the worst, most horrifying movie she's ever seen.  She was talking about Where the Wild Things Are.  Apparently, she loved Precious.

In all fairness, I've never seen Where the Wild Things Are so I really shouldn't judge, but I did read the book and I'm just having trouble finding anything disturbing about it.  Kristen said it was the creatures.  They were big and creepy and when one of them lost an arm and replaced it with a stick she nearly lost it.  Yeah, I'm still not getting the terror of it all but I respect her right to get freaked out over whatever she pleases.  Personally, I think the Burger King King is the most frightening thing I've seen since The Exorcist.  I am not exaggerating.  He is the stuff nightmares are made of.

So after pretending to sympathize with Kristen's peculiar Sendak phobia, I started thinking about some of my favorite Saturday morning shows when I was a kid and I wondered what she would think about them.  I'm pretty sure H.R. Pufnstuf would send her over the edge.  In fact, anything from Sid and Marty Krofft could potentially damage her.

I should explain that Sid and Marty Krofft made kids T.V. shows in the 60s and 70s when I was growing up.  They were my heroes.  My saviors.  My safe escape.  I don't remember a large portion of my childhood but I do remember my Saturday morning television shows.  I LIVED for them.  It was always rumored that the Krofft brothers got all their creative inspiration while they were on acid trips.  All I have to say about that is, "Yay acid!!"

H.R. Pufnstuf was by far one of my favorites. Witchiepoo was a little creepy and Freddy the talking flute was just plain odd, but I had such a crush on Jimmy.  I think I was attracted to him because his British accent made him seem so worldly and sophisticated and...well...I was 5.

Running a close second to Pufnstuf is Sigmund and The Sea Monsters.  Sigmund is a sea monster who makes friends with Johnny and his brother.  The boys spend a lot of time and effort trying to keep Sigmund hidden from all the other humans as well as from his mean sea monster brothers.  I'm sure you can just imagine the wacky shenanigans that went on!

Johnny was played by Johnny Whitaker who played in another one of my favorite childhood shows Family Affair.  It was not a Krofft brothers production so there were no outrageous characters, but none were needed because Family Affair had Mr. French and Uncle Bill and Buffy and Jody and, best of all, Mrs. Beasley!  I had a Mrs. Beasley doll at one time, this must have been before the trauma that caused my mortal fear of dolls, a fear I still have today.  Anyway, I'm not sure I understand the concept.  She's a baby doll.  But she's an old lady.  With glasses.  This is one of those marketing miracles.  It's a poorly conceived product that should have been a complete failure but for some reason it ended up being wildly popular.  I'm telling you, if someone would wrap Mrs. Beasly in a Snuggie, they could make a fortune.

Another Kroft favorite of mine was The Bugaloos.  They were 4 singing insects with British accents.  I always wanted to be Joy, the only girl in the group.  I thought she was so pretty and she had sparkly wings.  All little girls want to have sparkly wings.

I'll give Lidsville a casual nod but not full credit for shaping my childhood since all I can remember about it is Weenie the Genie who was played by the same actor who played Witchiepoo which I found very confusing at such a young age.  And then I grew up to write paragraph long run-on sentences.

Next we have Land of the Lost.  I think this one appealed to me because of the dazzling special effects.  Jurassic Park wishes it was Land of the Lost.  I loved the dinosaurs and all the unusual vegetation, but I did not like the sleestaks.  They were scary scaly lizard people who made this awful hissing sound in my closet at night.  I should confess that I did have a small crush on Will cuz he had that great 70s hair.

I think I'll round out my tribute to Sid and Marty Krofft with Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, which was part of the Krofft Supershow in the mid 70s.  Electra Woman and Dyna Girl were superheros a la Batman and Robin only with more eyeliner.  I don't remember who played Dyna Girl, but Electra Woman was played by Deidre Hall who was Marlena on Days of Our Lives for about 147 years.  I remember being fascinated by their boots and all that spandex and how their hair never moved.

Aahhh, memories.  These are just some of the things that have helped to shape me into the person I am today.  Which explains a lot. 

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Everyone should have a grenade cozy

I've been needing a new purse and decided today was the day to make that happen.  It's not that there's anything majorly wrong with my old purse, I'm just tired of it.  I've had 2 Andy Warhol bags back-to-back, it's time for a change.

I like purses, bags, backpacks, totes, containers of any kind really.  Back in the day, when all I had to do was spend money that someone else earned, I was somewhat of a purse snob and only bought designer handbags.  My closet is full of dead bags from Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Brighton, Coach, and there's even a couple of Judith Leiber bags in there that belonged to my Grandmother.  God rest their souls.

Nowadays, I wouldn't know a designer bag if you hit me in the face with it.  If I had an extra $1000 to spend on a purse, I still wouldn't be stupid enough to spend it on a purse.  I don't care what the movie stars are carrying.  I don't worry that my bag doesn't match my shoes because I wear flip flops and tennis shoes.  Everyone knows they're a universal neutral so everything goes with them.  I don't care if my bag is in style or if it is seasonally appropriate.  Even my husband is more concerned about handbags than I am, as you can see from the picture below.

Yes, there is a story there, but I'm not going to tell it.  It will be more fun to just let everyone wonder if he's looking for his lipstick.

Having said all that, that doesn't mean that I don't care at all about my handbag/purse/tote whatever.  I do have very specific criteria that it must meet, it's just very practical criteria.  Here are some of my guidelines:

1.  My bag has to be roomy.  To illustrate my spacial needs, I just dumped the entire contents of my purse onto the couch and snapped a picture.  This is the unedited contents, trash and all, don't
judge me.

Okay, I can see there is room for improvement in my method of keeping up with receipts and disposing of trash.  But on the upside, I found $40 I didn't know I had!!  The basic supplies that I must carry with me every day include not only the usual girlie stuff, but I also must have at least one sketchbook, at least a dozen pens, a few pencils, scissors, glue and a measuring tape.  That's the bare minimum.

2.  My bag has to NOT have a zipper closure.  Zippers on the smaller pockets are fine, but for the main purse area zippers don't work for me, mainly because I never bother to zip them.  I prefer those magnetic snap thingies or even no closure at all.

3.  I have to like my bag.  I don't really care what anyone thinks about my bag, if I like it that's good enough for me.  In recent years I've been choosing canvas bags more than leather because they take a Sharpie better.  I never buy a bag with the intent to doodle on it, but it is nice to have that option.

4.  My bag has to be affordable and that might vary depending on what my version of affordable is at that time.  Generally, it's under $20.  I don't see any reason to pay more than that for something I'm probably going to doodle on and then get bored with in a few months.

I don't intentionally look for unusual bags, but I do tend to be drawn to them when I run across them.  My current "evening bag" is one I bought a few years ago from one of the funnest stores on the internet: Archie McPhee.  It is a small leopard print bowling bag like this one:

A bag like that is certainly not appropriate for all occasions so I save it for only the most formal ones such as weddings and crawfish boils.  While visiting their site recently, I found another bag that would make an excellent evening bag or "date bag" know, where all you put in it is a lipstick, kleenex and debit card.  I might treat myself to this one soon since it is basic black and will go with everything:
I'm not exactly sure what gave me the idea to go with a military bag for my new purse but I made that decision last night and less than 24 hours later it was a done deal.  Oddly enough, I chose an Israeli paratrooper shoulder bag which is exactly what my Dad carried around after his stroke while he was learning to navigate life with one arm.  We made fun of him incessantly for his man bag and today I bought one just like it.  He's gonna get a kick out of that when he finds out.

My trip to the local Army surplus store, Dixie Surplus on Cameron, was a little disappointing.  They had more hunting and camping gear than they did actual military stuff but I still found a few interesting things.  I bought my paratrooper bag, which isn't actual surplus, it's one of those made-to-look-like-surplus things which suits me just fine.  I did find an actual surplus item that I felt I desperately needed.  It's a 3-pocket grenade cozy.  I felt it was a necessity since I didn't have anything to store my grenades in.  Now I do.  Problem solved!

While browsing through the store I spotted a couple of other interesting items as well.  There were lots of actual used backpacks full of fascinating little pockets, cubbies and straps.  I nearly bought one until I accidentally smelled the inside of it.  Let's just say it's seen some action.  There were also these fabulous little metal ammo boxes that I could just picture painted in bright colors and filled with...some...stuff.  I dunno, they were just cool and I do have that storage container weakness.

My favorite Army surplus items had to be the various bins of used underwear in a variety of earth tone colors.  They were a real steal at only $1 each.  I could not imagine who, in their right mind, would wear a pair of used men's undies until I remembered that I, myself, was standing in judgment of them while wearing my sister's gently used panties.  But you really can't compare the two because we're related and it's different somehow.  

So, the next time you see me I will be sporting my new bag and will have dealt with all my loose receipts, tissues, gum wrappers and other junk that was cluttering up my previous bag.  Best of all, we won't have to worry about my grenades all loose and running amok since they'll be safely stored in their new little cozy.  Obviously, "grenade cozy" just makes me laugh, I can't say it enough!