Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday End of Week Wrap Up

- Here's why you should always wear a little lipstick and carry a business card: I was in Home Depot in my hometown over the weekend with Dad and Lola and I ran into an old co-worker - he's a VP with Macy's. And a good guy to boot. He recognized me, but in old shorts a t-shirt and that such a good thing?

- I apologized to the chick at the pharmacy that I unloaded on the night of the eye infection. She didn't remember me until I described the incident. I think she was surprised I apologized, but you know - I felt bad. Clearing the air was the right thing to do.

- I managed to get my engagement ring off my swole finger. I have to admit - it looks nice with just the band on there. But I love my engagement ring, and damn if I didn't work to get it!

- Bought a book tonight called "Working With You Is Killing Me" - I think that it has some good coping mechanisms for the things that bother me at the office. Also, I have been thinking of reframing some of the things I hate and looking at them as ways to get to do MORE of the things I love. I'll keep you posted.

- Picked up 3 new pepper plants during the aforementioned Home Depot trip -2 habaneros and a poblano. The local rabbit has been helping himself a little too much and must be stopped!

- Spent the weekend with Mom and Dad - had a ball - and so did Matt.

- Came home to find that our neighbor, Miss Jean, had a For Sale sign in her yard. Hightailed it over there to get the scoop. Miss Jean, I should clarify, will be 76 next month and is the legal guardian of Christian - the cutest 4 year old boy in the world, and my husband's best friend. We love Jean and Christian and we are really hoping the place doesn't sell and she will have to stick around. Apparently Christian woke up this morning crying telling Jean that if he moves, Matt won't be able to find him. No worries, I'll follow that kid to the ends of the earth, and so will Matt. We played with him for about an hour, helped him pick up his toys, and for our "trouble", Jean sent us home with a plate of soul food. Neighbors kick ass, let me tell you.

That's all for now. I've promised Matt a haircut, and bedtime approacheth.


Friday, May 29, 2009

Mopey Pickle

So, today I got into a brief funk. Work-related, and minor, as these things go - but since I lack perspective, I dug in, got weepy and wallowed in self-pity for a good half morning.

And then, I started reaching out to the people who I knew I could count on to offer counsel, sympathy and jokes. And because I am luckier than I can possibly express, the people I reached out to, reached back.

What I am learning, what I continue to realize every day is that people are basically kind and good. And that I'm not going to be perfect, and that's OK.

I sound like Stuart Smalley. And that's OK.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wednesday Listmaking, Part Two

Even people as positive as me have our pet peeves – here are a few of mine.

I Don’t Like:

Radio ads that contain sirens, squealing tires and horns. Isn’t driving perilous enough?

People who don’t ask permission before petting your dog.

Finding the male concierge in my office building skulking in the women’s restroom. Creepy. “Unclogging the sink”, my ass!

Having to Self-Checkout at the store because they’re too cheap to use real cashiers after 8PM.

Department stores that crowd out the Women’s Department with either bathing suits or coats or whatever seasonal crap they’re shilling.

People who leave their cellphones on ring at the office, movie theater, etc. – although, true confession – my new cell arrived last night, and my first act was to add “Let’s Go To The Mall” as my ringtone.

Clothes with writing on the ass.

Little boys with long, long mullet hair or rat tails (or that rero 70’s/80’s bowl cut that I affectionately refer to as the “penis” hairstyle).

Mothers of young boys – use some good judgment!

Here are a few things I do like, just to keep the yin/yang balance:

Chinese places that use vegetables other than celery and mushrooms.

Matt’s iPhone. I got a new Nokia 2600 – which is nice – it’s red, but his iPhone is really cool.

President Obama’s nomination of Sonia Sotomayor for SCOTUS!!!

Having the data to back up my statements, and having the writing skills to do so professionally.

The new American Girl Doll – 1914 Jewish-Russian Immigrant Rebecca Rubin.

Although, technically, I think we’d be calling her Rivka, nu?

My kick-ass new ringtone! Robin Sparkles makes every call a happy one.

(Interesting... Rebecca circa 1914 looks remarkably like Robin circa 1994. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose!)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Don't we have the best time? (Another Long-Ass Post without photos)

Thursday night was a frenzy of hunting down and packing everything we thought we would need for the weekend, and on Friday afternoon, Matt, Lola and I pulled out of Nashville and headed east towards Rutledge, Tennessee – site of our second annual Memorial Day gathering with Matt’s wonderful family.

Four hours later, we arrived at Card’nal Cove – a little smattering of cabins located on Cherokee Lake. We unloaded our gear, talked with some of the family, and went to sleep.

Saturday morning, I went out to the car and noticed that what appeared to be a big leaf was sticking out of the grill. On closer inspection, it was a small bat. Since I’m a friend of bats, snakes, spiders and anything that eats insects, I felt kind of sad about it, but on the other hand, it was an opportunity to see one up close, which I haven’t been able to do – except for at the Nashville Zoo, and even then, it’s a little hard to see them.

So, Card’nal Cove, though a small, simple resort, has plenty of perks. The cabins themselves weren’t deluxe – clean, small and comfortable – and well-stocked with a tiny kitchenette. But for one, our cabin looked right out on the lake, and for two we were about 10 yards from the local restaurant – The Galley. I took $60 in cash with me on this trip – we ate four times at the Galley and I had money left over. That morning, Matt and I had sausage biscuits and orange juice to go – we sat with Lola in front of the cabin and ate. After that, we wandered around and met everyone. Card’nal Cove has 10 cabins – our family occupied all but one. Here’s who was in attendance:


Kelly (Matt’s Uncle)
Flora (Matt’s Aunt)
Julia (Matt’s sister)
Nickey (Julia’s boyfriend)
Jim (Kelly and Flora’s son)
Anna (Jim’s girlfriend)
Brittany (Jim’s daughter)
Matt (Brit’s boyfriend)
Ashley (Anna’s daughter)
Nick (Ashley’s boyfriend)
Joseph (Anna’s son)
Jake (Joseph’s BFF)
Elizabeth (Anna’s niece)
Teresa (Flora and Kelly’s niece)
Shane (Teresa’s husband)
Hannah (Shane and Teresa’s daughter)
Glenda (Flora and Kelly’s niece)
Nathan (Glenda’s husband)
Kacie (Glenda and Nathan’s niece)
Doug (Flora and Kelly’s nephew)
Shannon (Doug’s wife)
Nathan (Shannon and Doug’s son)
Clyde (Kelly and Flora’s longtime friend)
Joyce (Clyde’s wife and Kelly and Flora’s longtime friend)


Sally (Hannah’s Chihuahua)
Mimi (Teresa’s Pug)
Lola (my Tibostunk Terrietter)

So, that’s a lot of meeting and greeting (and sniffing and barking) – I had never met half of these folks, but within five minutes, I felt like we’d been friends for years. Matt hadn’t seen many of them in 25 years, but they picked up right where they left off. We hung out, dropped off our cookies that I had baked, talked with everyone and made plans for the day. After lunch, a group of us went out on a rented pontoon, and Matt and I decided to take Lola. She trotted right out on the dock and hopped on the boat with no hesitation. As it turns out, Lola was made for boating. She stood at the front of the boat and let the wind blow on her ("I’m king of the world!”) , she looked over the side, and when we dropped anchor for a swim, we tossed her in. She swam quickly back to the side where we pulled her back in, she shook off and sneezed and coughed a few times, then lounged in the sun.

After a quick, post-pontooning nap, Matt, Lola and I took off looking for a bike trail he had read about. Matt biked, I walked Lola and we met back up. I pulled a few ticks off of Lola before they could attach, and we headed to the local Ingles for a few supplies. By the time we got back (around 8:30), they had fired up the grill and were charring some hot dogs. We had a few drinks –Matt and I talked with Nick, who is studying German at UT. So they spoke German – I made a few cursory comments about ambulances and asparagus and then we chowed down on some hot dogs. Nothing tastes better than grilled hot dogs when you are hungry - I had two with kraut and mustard. Nick, Joseph and Jake – members of a band called Solace played some music for us – guitar, guitar and drums – I sang along to the one song they played that I knew “House of the Rising Sun” – and the rest was what I affectionately refer to as “mope rock” – minor chords, sparse lyrics, repetitive. That said, they were great musicians and we had fun.

Matt and I slept in on Sunday. We ate some breakfast at the cabin, wandered around and chatted with people, then hit the boat again for some tubing. Now that was awesome! They dragged my laughing butt hither and yon across the lake with the life vest sliding up over my head. Matt took tons of pictures, and when it was his turn, I did the same. You are never too old to try something new. Once again, Lola headed out with us, but this time, we kept her out of the water. She was definitely curious about jumping in, but she didn’t take the plunge, so we didn’t force it.

That afternoon, we rested a little, then headed up to the pavilion to read, listen to Elizabeth play flute, drink a little beer and eat some popcorn. After awhile, the weekend guy came in and set up for some karaoke – fun for both tourists and locals. I sang a few times, Jim, Anna and Brit’s Matt belted out the Eagles and Elvis, Shane got up and sang, as did the “girls” – Hannah, Kacie and Elizabeth – I couldn’t make out what they were singing, but they had fun. The karaokemeister let Solace up to play a set, and while all this was going on, a random little black Scottie dog was chasing the disco lights in the pavilion…for four hours. Matt and I broke off briefly to scarf down a few leftover hot dogs, but we danced and sang and took pictures and laughed at the dog. After the party, Matt took a few shots of some concoction that looked like anti-freeze (vodka and energy drink), we escorted Kelly and Flora to one of the cabins to get a leftover hot dog, and we hit the hay.

Yesterday, after a leisurely breakfast that started with me and Matt, then added Kelly, Flora, Elizabeth, Clyde, Joyce, Nickey and Julia, we all packed up, said goodbye and headed home.

Our destination last year was one hundred times fancier, but I couldn’t have had any more fun than I had this year. I’m sore, I’m sunburned, I’m tired and my eyes are puffy, but I had a great time, Matt had a great time, and Lola – well, Lola hasn’t had that kind of fun in ages. She was friendly, didn’t bark much, slept when we left her in the cabin, played when she was with us, and she’s the seaworthiest little matey I’ve ever seen! She was just terrific, and man, did we wear her out! That dog slept like a rock dropped in mud every night.

I am so lucky – I have a great husband, he has a great family, and we all had a ball together. I couldn’t have asked for more fun. And since Flora negotiated a group rate – three days rental cost us $156. Tax included. Dirt cheap accommodations, dirt cheap chow (and good to boot), and company worth a million bucks.

Pictures to follow. Of course.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wednesday Listmaking

An abbreviated list of things that serve no real practical purpose, and we could completely survive without them, but were simply created for our enjoyment, and all of which I love:

- Jigsaw Puzzles
- Roller Coasters
- Fireworks
- Doughnuts
- Video Games
- Scrabble
- Coke Zero
- Singing Telegrams
- Nail Polish
- Dizzy Bat Races
- Game Shows
- Haunted Houses
- Bubbles
- Draft Beer
- Kazoos
- Squirt Guns
- Disco Balls
- Fancy Ringtones
- Scratch n Sniff Stickers

To Be Continued…

And feel free to share your own!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bitter aftertaste...

I am so frustrated tonight. We ended up doing a lot of running around - and it was sound and fury, signifying nothing. Which I think I actually knew going into it, but just wasn't willing to admit.

So, Matt's on a bike ride. I ended up skipping bellydancing to take care of business, and now it's late, we ate a weird dinner - foraging in the fridge for whatever, and I want something sweet in the worst way.

I know I'm not hungry, I'm angry - and since both words end in -gry, I tend to confuse them far too often.

They say you shouldn't eat your feelings, but right now, if ice cream could wipe out my feelings, I'd sprint to Sonic for anything I could get my hands on.

Instead, I think I'll start some laundry.

I bought a bathing suit today, and ice cream won't do much to improve my poolside preparedness.

What do you think? I also bought a pair of "board shorts" to cover my assets, so to speak. By the way, that's not me in the picture. For one, I have a full head. For two, I am not a model for

I guess that's it - since it's hard to type with a banana split in your hands, I guess I could use blogging as a food avoidance tactic.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Have You Hugged Mr. Stripey Today?

You know how I did that outrageously hard Zumba class on Saturday? Well, I spent most of Sunday sore as living hell, and honestly, I’m STILL hurting a little.

Too bad, though because tonight, we do it again. This class should be a little lower in impact. Sarah hasn’t quite gotten into her groove yet, and I’ll be honest, it’s not just tons of fun. But she’s a good kid, and she deserves a little show of support. Plus, I think I may want to introduce her to one of my bachelor friends. Hmmm. Still, I miss Cacilda.

Even better, tonight’s the season finale of my favorite TV Show – How I Met Your Mother. Ok, so it’s not exactly high-brow or educational, but I am really into the show. It’s just a part of the Allison Landscape. Since I have gotten into Zumba, I’ve been recording it and watching it when I get home. So yes, I love the show and wouldn’t miss it, but I do have the perspective enough to go work out FIRST.

In Non-Zumba news…

The garden is IN! Matt tilled and I planted yesterday afternoon – it was chilly out, especially this late in May, but we put in two habanero plants, two jalapeno plants, one Italian Roasting Pepper plant, one Red Chile, and one pepper plant with the delightful name Holy Mole! We also decided, what the hell, to put in two tomato plants. Better Boys. I keep hoping I’ll get decent with tomatoes and that one year, I can plant a Mr. Stripey.

The name alone just makes me want to hug the damn thing. There were birds all in the garden last night delighted in the smorgasbord of worms we unearthed for them. I also roughed up some Morning Glory seeds and put them in planters. You see, the shell on them is very hard - and if you either soak them overnight in water, or nick them with a knife or rough them with a little sandpaper, they tend to germinate more effectively. Stick with me, kids, you’ll learn all kinds of crazy shit.

Speaking of crazy shit, and for that matter, worms – Matt showed me a clip from a “show” airing on the Sundance Channel called Green Porno – wherein Isabella Rossellini tells you about the sex life of various insects, etc. – while she as dressed as the creature in question. The one we watched was about earthworms, and she was fairly graphic, as much as a woman in a large pink satiny earthworm costume can be. Google it – you won’t be disappointed.

I’m continuing to eat right, exercise and keep a positive attitude.

Life is good.

PS - I have room for two more pepper plants. Since the habaneros I bought yesterday are the red ones, I need some orange ones. I have to defend my rightful place among the jelly-makers of Tennessee.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

HItting the Road

After 9:30 AM Zumba with Lorenza's sub, Tiffany yesterday, I'm what you might call a little stove up. Or, to be more specific, sore. It was the squat thrusts that did it. Good for me, but a little more than I'm used to.

So today while Matt was on his bike ride, I put Birkenstock to pavement and took Lola on a neighborhood stroll. Our pace was a leisurely/brisk combo. Brisk enough to make it exercise, but leisurely enough to notice all the pretty houses, the interesting things our neighbors have planted, and of course, it gave Lola the time to pee a half dozen times and throw herself down and roll in the grass a few times as well.

Highlights - the house that's been newly repainted red a few blocks from ours, the smell of honeysuckle, the cool breezy weather, and the house with the variegated marigolds in front. Love me some marigolds. They were part of my wedding bouquet. The highlights for Lola were barking at the black and white dog who lives across the street from the aforementioned red house, rolling in the grass near the Nashville Schools Media Building and peeing on a patch of gravel.

Today we're buying pepper plants at the Farmer's Market, and we'll probably have lunch at Jamaicaway.

Me, I'm trying to eat better - I got healthy food in the house for that very purpose, and so far, not too bad. I had the stuffed eggplant at Mama Mia's last night, but can you blame me? What would have been the better choice? Exactly.

Baby steps. Baby steps.

Friday, May 15, 2009 us those nice bright colors...

So. Here's the deal. I'm fat.
Now, many of you are probably thinking, "Um, yeah about that, Allison? Yes, yes you are."
Some of you may be thinking, "Well, yes but so what?" and maybe a few are thinking that I'm being too hard on myself. But probably not. You're more than likely wondering what took me so long to come to this point, and what was the cold water in the face that snapped me into reality.

After looking at the pictures of Henry's birthday and wondering where Tom and Laura got a Macy's Parade Balloon on such short notice (and then realizing that was me), I've decided that this has gone on long enough.

Here's what I weigh - 223 pounds. I know, I know - I don't look a pound over 215. I'm hiding it all in my feet.

Here's the size I wear - 18W or 20W depending on what it is, who made it, etc.

So, yeah - that's 12 pounds heavier than my previous all-time high of 211. And I checked, by the way - my home scale is not running heavy. It is dead on.

So. Now what?

Well, from my time doing Weight Watchers, I can't say I didn't learn what and what not to eat. But knowing isn't doing.


The next time they photograph me with my nephew, I don't want it to look like I'm about to eat him.

Or in this case - try to hide behind him. Nope, didn't work. Also, it would be nice if my boobs weren't bigger than his head. Matt may argue that point with me, but he doesn't need to worry - I'll never be so thin that it renders me flat-chested. Genetic impossibility. Also, damn, that's a cute blouse - I can rock the paisley!

Now on the positive side - I'm not a bad person. I have lots of good qualities, and it's not as though I can't see that. And I am not one of these people that believes my body is the sum and total of who I am.

But wouldn't it be nice if all the good things on the inside had a better carrying case?

Ready or not, here I go.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I like to rock the party...

Like most people, I celebrate the major holidays - Thanksgiving, Halloween, 4th of July...and I recognize the smaller ones - Purim, Festivus, Arbor Day...

But since I love to celebrate in general, I have a few minor holidays that are Alliecentric. If you will – my calendar of lesser holidays:

January 1st – Lola’s birthday. Since we don’t know her exact date of birth, we have to use the date she was found, subtract six weeks (the age that her vet estimated she was on that date) and we come up with 1/1/1999. Acknowledging this date allows me to stretch out the holidays just that much more. Sometimes marked with a rice krispy molded into a novelty shape (bone, squirrel). Once, I had a party at my apartment. My parents brought Sadie, we had cupcakes.

February 13th – Foundling Day. The day Mom and Dad found Lola on the side of the road and brought her home to me. Often celebrated by eating roast beef sandwiches, telling Lola how lucky I am that Mom and Dad found her. Once I made a cake which reenacted Dad's Jeep on the dirt road and a small replica Lola sitting off to the side.

April 1st – April Fools’ Day. Nothing special, but I enjoy it. I’d love to pull off something amazing, but I can’t keep secrets.

May 14th – Anniversary with PureSafety. I celebrate my hire date with a company only for as long as I am a member of that company.
So in other words, Happy Anniversary to me. I almost sent myself flowers. Ha!

July 14th – Bastille Day. I’m not French, but this serves as an excuse to eat a French meal, and who doesn’t love Steak-Frites? One year, Mom and I went to Pastis together – I spent probably $90 on the meal (which is still a lot to spend) but I had just gotten a bonus, and what the hell – we loved it!

August – Used Car Night with the Lookouts. This event is, in my mind, responsible for the holiday that follows. We skip it some years, but I’m hoping we can make it happen this year. The first one – August 14, 2004 marks the first time my mother met Matt’s family. Dad opted out due to a corneal abrasion, but everyone had a ball together and one month later…

September 19th – Proposal Day. On September 19, 2004 Matt and I went to D. Geller & Sons and he bought the ring. Big stuff. Eleven months and one day later, I became Mrs. Matthew Howell Everett. Best thing to happen to me…ever.

October – Oktoberfest. It’s probably the best month of the year – cooler weather, my birthday, Halloween. But the fact that there’s a reason to eat German food and drink beer. Well, who really needs a reason?

October - Pugfest - One large room in Metro Atlanta filled with pugs and the people who love them. What more can I say really?

There are plenty of real holidays in November and December, which, given the lack of sunlight and cold weather, is when we need to party the hardest.

These are only the ones that make the mental calendar – I’m sure there are others. Mostly because I love to celebrate.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


The doctor says it's bacterial conjunctivitis. Which, is pink eye, but not the "contagious" kind - which would be viral conjunctivitis.

Whatever. My right eye - that's OD or Ocularis Dextra to all you clinical types out there, is what I believe, were we in a better mood, we'd call "swole".

I went to the Quack in the Box last night, and they prescribed a topical antibiotic as well as some amoxicillin. I tried to fill the scrips at my local Walgreens last night, and they didn't have the eyedrops. At which point, I kind of lost it. I started crying and overreacting in general.

Let's cut to the chase - yesterday was not my best day.

I am hoping that today will be better.

But at the moment, it's gross, and I'm struggling. And it's 7:10 AM.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Fun For the Whole Family - A Long-Ass Post With No Pictures

We had a great time seeing Tom, Laura, Henry and Biscuit in Kansas (and of course, spending time with Mom and Dad, too). We got to the Nashville airport early, early, Thursday morning and got on a flight that had maybe 40 other passengers on it. We landed and met up with Tom, Laura and Henry, got our bag from the conveyor and then headed to the mini-van. Mom and Dad’s flight landed in a second terminal which required a short drive. Their flight was on time as well, and after grabbing their bags, we were on our way to Leavenworth.

Our first stop was the Santa Fe Depot – a train station turned restaurant – where we all enjoyed a late breakfast, and my dad harassed the waitress about “Yankee Biscuits”. It was good chow, and great coffee. I also got to watch Henry eat a pancake, which was awesome. He currently has 4 teeth and 2 more on the way, and has started enjoying solid food.

After breakfast, we headed to the house. There, we were greeted by Biscuit, the Yellow Lab – she’s six, and has unlimited energy. She also loves attention and sheds as though her life depends on it. We’re big pals, and she was even happier to see me after I gave her a present – a red stuffed lobster with rope legs – instant classic!

Henry and his parents liked his reggae CD (the works of Bob Marley done as instrumental lullabies), and Laura and Tom were excited about their new pancake molds – seeing as how Henry’s a recent pancake enthusiast.

Thursday was mostly spent chilling out. We relaxed, caught up – listened to music and napped. We watched Henry demolish some meatballs, green beans, yogurt, vanilla wafers… the kid can eat. He’s probably in a growth spurt, but it was fun to watch. He’s also starting to speak a little. He definitely says Dada and Dad. We’re working on Mama. He said it a few times, but you know, Mama is a pretty critical word in the kid vocabulary. As much as Henry likes to eat, I’d say his favorite activity is moving – he crawls like a maniac, and he’s just thisclose to walking – he pulls up and edges along tables, doors, windows… I’ll be curious to see what happens when he takes off!

That evening, we had some great barbecue – if you’re ever in the Midwest and you see Burnt Ends as an option on the menu – run, don’t walk, to order them. They’re wonderful.

That night, we stayed up late talking, laughing and dissecting our lives.

Friday was the big day – Henry’s first birthday. Matt, Tom and I went to their grocery store, Dillon’s to get some steaks for the big dinner. I think you all know that I’m pretty frugal, so when I saw the steaks Tom had chosen, I first winced at the cost, then drooled at their grandeur. I think you know, I love red meat, and these were beautiful specimens. All hail the KC Strip!

They put me in charge of balloons, and I have to say, I did a bang-up job – Henry loved them and they were very festive.

After naptime, we loaded up the minivan and headed to the Leavenworth Carousel Museum – there are two working carousels there - one from 1913, the other from 1950 – both Parker Carousels. I could give you at least three paragraphs on the history, but instead, I’ll tell you our experience.

I got inside first and bought us tickets for the tour – which includes a free ride. The docent, who must have been at least 75 was delighted to see us and ushered us in to watch a movie on the history of the museum. She left and closed the door.

About 3 minutes in to the movie, Henry made a noise or two, and Tom quickly excused himself and the baby (pretty slick, Tom). And it went downhill from there. The movie was highly reverential in tone, and just as we thought we had gotten to the end, the narrator said, “But before you ride the carousel, there’s so much more you need to know!” At which point, Dad sighed audibly, and I got a case of the cackles. Some people giggle. Not me. Thankfully, our fossilized tour guide wasn’t in there to hear me. Of course, she probably heard me anyway – I’m what’s known as “loud”.

After the movie, everyone was ready to cut to the chase and get on the carousel – I could tell that the docents were bummed. Well, here’s the thing – had it been just me and Matt, we’d have taken the tour. But the rest of the family was ready to ride. So, except for Dad (who pled possible motion sickness), we climbed aboard. There are some excellent pictures, which I’ll post later. Since the two jackrabbits (the only two known remaining CW Parker Jackrabbits, mind you) were occupied by a mother-son duo not with our group, Matt and I got into this spinny thing (think Tea Cup), Mom grabbed a horse, and the birthday boy and his parents got into a chariot. The damn thing cranked up and went around like a centrifuge – not a leisurely ride, by any stretch. Also, the organ which played music wasn’t working, but before we knew it, the ride was over, and everyone was getting the hell out of dodge. Laura blamed it on Henry. Matt was able to sneak a look at the freak show exhibit – two shrunken heads and a “mermaid” – half chimp, half fish. He also talked to one of the older gentlemen who ran the ride itself.

Look, I’m all for taking pride in what you do, but I also believe it’s OK not to take yourself (or your volunteer gig) so seriously.

In retrospect, maybe I should have just gotten tickets for the ride, but how would you know? Good times. Special thanks to Melissa Etheridge, native Leavenworthian for making that museum possible.

Our next stop was a tour of the base, which all but Dad had done before. If you ever have a chance to peep Fort Leavenworth, it’s kind of amazing. It’s like a completely self-contained city in the middle of a city – their own dentist, veterinarian, movie theater, PX and Commissary, and on and on. My favorite part is going through officers’ housing – the houses are pretty and there are a lot of international folks there, and they hang their country’s flag on their residences. So that’s really cool.

We stopped at the Frontier Museum on base where we saw old stagecoaches, covered wagons, uniforms, etc. My favorites were some drawings that an Indian drew for General Custer. They were very interesting and kind of violent, but looked like a kid had drawn them. Think
“Napoleon Dynamite draws the Battle of Little Bighorn”.

Friday night, we ate steaks, blew out some candles and opened some presents. We stayed up talking and laughing. And singing Dixie. Badly. And slowly (long story).

On Saturday, we took a day trip to Lawrence, KS – where KU is located. We had a good time rolling through campus – in retrospect, I should have taken Laura up on the offer to have my photo taken in front of the Sigma Kappa house (gorgeous) but maybe next time. Lawrence itself is a great, groovy, granola college town. We hit a killer toy store where I bought Henry a book and myself a head massager; an even better fabric store (where I bought…nothing) and finally hit a little European market where I got Matt a few German treats and some soap that smells like pine trees. At the last place, I started talking to another shopper about what a neat town Lawrence was. Her reply, “Yeah, but it’s still Kansas.” I know what she’s saying, but also, so what? I think Kansas is pretty nice. Wholesome, all-American, grassy.

That evening, we had dinner out, gave Mom her Pug coasters for Mother’s Day and capped off the evening with a viewing of Marley & Me. Which by the way folks, is not the feel good family event of the year. Mom cried, Dad left before it ended. I enjoyed it, but it obviously reminded me of Lola's mortality.

Sunday morning, Tom took us to the airport at half past early and we took another flight with 30 people also headed to Nashville. By 9:41 AM, we were at the house unpacking.

It was whirlwind, but completely awesome.

Photos to come soon!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Pictures of Dancing Girls

Special thanks to Erika for the photos - they're perfect!

Anna and Cacilda - hat, courtesy of Anna

Our Fearless Leader in a Carmen Mirandaesque Pose

Meninas Bonitas!
Anna, Cacilda, Me and Dylan

Another Post About Zumba. No, Really.

So, I’ll be honest with you – I’ve battled a chronic low-grade depression for most of my adult life. I think the fact that I’m a naturally anxious person probably compounds things, but it’s there, I’ve done a number of things to combat it, ranging from couch time with a good shrink to a scattershot of anti-depressants. I’ve never been rendered nonfunctional because of any of this, but sometimes it’s kind of like wearing a coat that’s a size too small and a little itchy.

The drug of the moment is Effexor, and it works nicely to give me a lift and suppress some of the anxiety. I’m probably never going to go off of it, because of the side effects that reportedly come with quitting it. But since it works, I’m good.

That said, I think that Zumba has far and away done more for me than all the therapy and pills combined.

Here’s why:

1. Exercise is good for you! Well, duh! Everyone knows that moving your carcass gets the blood flowing, reduces stress and will hopefully start keeping my blood pressure at bay. I had heard this for years, but because I actively dreaded working out, I missed out on the rush that comes with breaking a sweat.

2. The music is really upbeat and happy – case in point, last night, I danced my way through housework courtesy of Cacilda’s CD. I respond to music and always have. And as much as I love Matt, his music of choice isn’t usually light and peppy. I need light and peppy. Like showtunes, oldies and apparently, Zumba music.

3. Being around people is a good thing. If you’re exercising, and happy, you’re going to meet other people who are also exercising and happy. The people in my class are so friendly! And nice, and so on. I always worried that if I took a class at the Green Hills Y, I’d be surrounded by either skinny little college girls who would treat me like a smelly beached whale. What I found was a lot of women who are incredibly kind, crazy smart, wickedly funny and just a pleasure to be around. I have as much fun talking to people after class as I do in class.

4. You get back what you put out. I don’t always believe this to be true, but it’s true enough. If you’re out there and you’re putting out positive energy, you’re going to get positive energy back. What could be more positive than spending time listening to great music, with fun people and shaking your bunda? The happier I am, the more happiness I attract, and the more happiness I attract, the happier I am.

5. Because I feel better about myself, I’m more likely to get out and try more things and meet more people. In Atlanta, I had friends, but I wasn’t an especially social person. A lot of it was geography, but I think I could have had a lot more fun it I had been open to it

6. I misjudged myself. I will tell people that I am clumsy and not very coordinated. I’ve said it so often that even if it wasn’t true then, it is now. Ok, so am I as graceful as a prima ballerina? No. But can I hold my own in class? Yeah, I can. The point is – so many of the things I’ve thought I couldn’t do in life were limitations I created based on self-perception. So now, rather than think, “Oh, I’m not good at this” or, “I can’t do that.” I’ll try. And you know, I may not be good at something, but I can still do those things, and possibly even get better at them. And I’d rather fall down while trying than stay safe sitting on the sidelines.

That’s that. So, yeah – you get the point. I’m feeling pretty good these days.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Monday Musings

I know from both the book and movie “To Kill a Mockingbird” that it is, in fact sin to kill one. My question though is…why? Have you ever encountered a mockingbird? Aside from their uncanny ability to mimic cell phones, crying babies, etc. – these are the meanest birds I’ve met since I got mauled by a swan at age 10. Long story, but let’s just say, watch your back in cemeteries. Lola and I used to walk on a trail where we were relentlessly dive-bombed by a mockingbird whose nest was nearby. I get that whole protective maternal instinct, but that bird was needlessly vicious. Also, did you know that you can make a tequila mockingbird by mixing tequila, crème de menthe and lime juice? Gross but true.

So, we were out the other night at a burger joint (ok Five Guys if you must know – and yeah the burgers and fries were pretty damn good), and there are all these young girls with their parents, post softball game. The name of their team – the Diamond Divas. Eight year old divas? Great. That’s exactly what we have been needing in this world. More young girls with that me-me-me mentality. If you look up diva, it comes as a synonym of Prima Donna – both Italian in origin – but here’s the definition of the latter: a vain or undisciplined person who finds it difficult to work under direction or as part of a team. So here we have a *team* of divas. Something is rotten in Denmark. They didn’t seem to be bad kids – maybe a little too rambunctious for me, but then again – it’s not like we were at The Palm, so it was what it was.

If you’re ever in Germany and find yourself with Scheidenpilz - which literally translates into Vagina Mushrooms but we here in the states call a Yeast Infection, go to the nearest Apotheke and ask for Kadefungin. Here’s the deal – pharmacies in Europe don’t have things just sitting out – even innocuous things like aspirin. So you actually have to go to the counter and request what you need. And if you are like me, you don’t speak German – so you have to borrow your husband’s German dictionary and work out a sentence or six explaining in no uncertain terms that the homeopathic crap you bought a few days ago because you were too chickenshit to go up to the counter and demand an anti-fungal … isn’t working – except to say that instead of merely itching, you are now itching and burning. Now while it’s true that most pharmacies in Munich have English speaking pharmacists, I find that talking about my mushroom problem is far less embarrassing when I sound like Liesl Karstadt from Baden-Baden and not Itchy American Tourist #12. Another one for your "gross-but-true" files. Assuming you're keeping files.

Kadefungin - Ask For It By Name!

The makeover yesterday was a success – I ended up getting eyeshadow and lipstick. I kept trying to get the nice lady to let me try the red lipstick, and when she gave in, she admitted that it looked good on me. I didn’t get any foundation because, let’s be honest, it would sit in my bathroom cabinet from now til I decided to toss it three years from now. If I had money to blow, I’d feed it to Lola – or at LEAST get a pedicure. I really need a pedicure. I wish I had decided to give up some other luxury, like one of my prescriptions or maybe my daily Coke Zero. No, I couldn’t do that - I really believe that it has crack in it. That’s the only explanation.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Pleasant Valley Sunday

The weather is still very blah today, but Matt went for a ride on the Natchez Trail, and I'm heading to Cool Springs after I shower and dress. It's Makeover Day!

Plus, I still want to look at that skirt at Target - with my luck, it will be hideous. Actually, in a way, that would be better.

I have a little bellyache from too much Indian Food, dessert and coffee last night. We went out with Alex and Brandon. Remind me that if I ever get to Cabana again, I may want to wear something a little less... I don't know - frumpy? I left the house feeling cute and walked into Cabana feeling like a Wide Load.

What's a girl to do - living in a college town filled with young lovelies is enough to drive anyone over the age of 30 insane. But if like me, you're naturally low in the self-esteem department, well - you can't help but compare yourself to these ladies.

Although, at the end of the night, I fall asleep next to a man who loves me, a sweet dog, and under the roof of a beautiful home. It's all good.

A little stiff from yesterday's Zumba/falling incident. This too shall pass!

Starting to get ready for Kansas - it looks like it'll be warm but rainy. I may take my raincoat. Or I may chance getting spritzed from time to time. It's not the end of the world.

Tomorrow is either our last class with Cacilda, or our first class with Sarah. Either way, I'll get to see my friends and get a workout in to boot.

But for now, time to wash hair, find a cute outfit in the closet that sort of screams "me" so that the people at the Bobbi Brown counter get an idea of what they are dealing with. Oh, and put away the spaghetti sauce that Matt made this morning. It smelled a little...weird, and I'll admit I'm afraid of it.

Wish me luck on all fronts!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

And another down and another one down...

Went to Lorenza's 9:30 Zumba this morning, and ended up falling during the second or third choreography. I got right back up, but it spooked me, and I finished the class out very timidly. I'm fine. Fell on my left side and the butt hurts a little as does that foot (I rolled it and lost my balance), but nothing permanent. In fact, at the moment, I feel fine.

At any rate, the class was so packed that I don't think anyone really noticed - well, except the people to either side of me - Erika asked if I was OK, and the girl in the AOPi shirt just looked irritated that I fell in her direction. Take a chill pill there Kaylie (not her real name that I know of), fat isn't contagious. Friggin' AOPi girls. Give me a Chi O any day.

Lorenza seemed to be having an emotional morning - she cut the class 10 minutes short (not that I'm complaining) and she told us not to let men hold us back and then started crying. I feel for her, because who hasn't started crying inappropriately at work before? Oh, wait - that's not normal? Oh well, never mind then -carry on!

Matt and I are going to go out for lunch somewhere, and that's really all we have planned so far. The weather is kind of blah - I can't plant veggies today, because I can't use the tiller -the ground is saturated. I could pull the pansies and start on the morning glories - we'll have to see.

I wouldn't mind a trip to Las Paletas, and given that Matt has bought some gear for the bike this morning, I don't think $5 worth of popsicles are out of the question.

I also wouldn't mind a nap - it's definitely the perfect weather for it. I wonder if there's anything good at the Belcourt.

I'm not sure exactly when I became so boring, but I embrace it!

Make it a great one, mes amis!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Flopsy or Mopsy?

We have a rabbit in the backyard. What kills me is that every time I come out there with Lola, the bunny gets this wild-eyed frantic “I gotta get outta here” look – which is awesome, because Lola hasn’t noticed the bunny once. So as soon as Lola is busy peeing or looking in a different direction, the rabbit creeps to the back of the yard and then hightails his cottontail out under the gate.

Since we don’t have anything planted yet, I’m not especially worried, and I don’t think the garden will be all that attractive to him once we plant, unless he wants to be a Hasenpfeffer. See, Hasen means rabbit in German, and I plant hot peppers and in German that's pfeffer, so... never mind. God, I slay me. Nothing like linguistic jokes to prove you are a nerd.

Other than a trip to the makeup counter with Natae (which we moved to Sunday), I don’t really think we have too much planned this weekend. I have already bought Henry’s birthday present, I need to take a quick trip to Green Hills for a little errand, and I’d like to go back to Target tonight with Mr. E – there’s a skirt I’ve kind of been eyeing there. And a video game he’s been eyeing. Lots of eyeing.

We had a nice storm late last night – the lightening must have hit right near the house because it woke me up and I nearly jumped out of my skin. In fact, I pulled a muscle! Ha! But we need the rain, so I can’t bitch too much. Also, I didn't yell at anyone in my dreams last night, so overall, it's good.

One thing I am going to do this weekend is start packing for the trip. I always get a lot of anxiety around these things because, what’s the phrase I’m looking for? Oh, yes – I haven’t a thing to wear. Which as we know is not true, but my basic insecurity always kicks in whenever I have to get out a suitcase. I should probably check the weather before I make too many decisions.

That’s it for the moment.

For now.