Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Recap Part Two - Electric Boogaloo!

This part is where I get tired, less prosaic and even less likely to upload pics. Oh well!

Day 2:

Matt and I woke up and it was cold. I eventually pried myself from my sleeping bag and went to the shower. Wish I had taken a photo – the doors were marked Mares and Geldings, which, knowing that a Gelding is a Stallion which was castrated, makes me wonder about the mindset of the woman who runs the place.

After a hot shower, I was ready to face the world, and I started making breakfast on the camp stove. It was tasty, and we ate plenty. We gathered our gear and headed out toward the trail once again.

After I dropped Matt off for his ride, I went off the trail in Kosciusko, Mississippi. I initially stopped to use the ladies room at the Chamber of Commerce/Visitors Center, but once I found out it’s the birthplace of Oprah Winfrey, I decided to stick around and kill a little time.

I found a WalMart, which, as we all know, was built for the express purpose of killing time. There I purchased 3 yards of material, a bandanna, and a bag of Pepperidge Farm Brussels cookies, which I’d been craving for a few days. They were stale/rancid tasting. Damn you Kosciusko!

I picked up sandwiches at the local Subway for myself and for Easy Rider, then headed down the trail to chill, eat lunch and fill in a crossword puzzle. The puzzle was too hard for me, so I plugged away at it for awhile and eventually gave up. I met Matt on the trail and drove us towards Natchez while he worked on his sandwich. We saw a gray fox, tons of deer and turkeys and crows. Lots of crows. And anthills. If you are a crow or an ant, get thee to the Natchez Trace, stat!

We got to Natchez as the sun was setting. Matt took some pictures of the Mississippi River, we checked into our room and took more photos.

The room Matt found us was at the Mark Twain Guest House – three rooms for rent over the Under The Hill Saloon in Natchez. If you’re ever in Natchez, check it out – it’s a little loud, a little smoky smelling, but charming beyond compare. Our room was the one facing the river. Very, very cute.

After Matt showered, we headed into downtown and had dinner at Biscuits & Blues – they’re a bar/resto whose mission statement is “Dedicated To the Preservation of Hot Biscuits and Cool Blues” – the biscuits, served with peach preserves mixed in butter, were excellent. So were the blues. So was dinner – Matt had Eggplant Orleans, I had fried shrimp. We headed out, blew a few bucks at the Isle of Capri Casino (a river boat) and went to bed.

Day 3:

After a pretty decent nights’ sleep, Matt and I woke up and hit the ground running – Matt felt like he might be getting a cold. We had a quick breakfast at the Guest House, then packed up, turned in our keys, and drove over the bridge to Louisiana. Twenty-two states down, twenty-eight to go. In Louisiana, we saw prisoners working road detail. I was amused to see them in the archetypal black and white stripes. I couldn’t work fast enough to photograph them, but they looked like this:

We drove back into Natchez and explored downtown. It was there we found my bottle cap dog (see previous post) and I also found some candleholders for Thanksgiving. I thought Natchez was a great little town.

We left and made our way to Tupelo. We had no sooner left Natchez and gotten back on the trail when we ran into a humongo rattlesnake. He was chilling in the middle of the southbound lane and we took a few good pictures. We stopped at a few sites, including a cypress swamp, but we did skip the beaver dams at Myrick Creek, since there are no actual beavers left there. Dam beavers!

We ended up at a nice Days Inn in Tupelo just after dark, and after we checked in, hit one of the local Walgreens (of which there are many) to get Matt some Airborne to stave off his cold. Then we hit Vanelli’s – the local Italian/Greek mainstay. Dinner was excellent, and about halfway through our meal, the owner came up holding my wallet – it had fallen out of my purse in the parking lot and some kind soul had returned it to her, unopened. Never will I disparage the good people of Mississippi – that was the kindness of strangers in action.

We went back to the hotel, watched some premium cable and conked out. Matt’s cold kept him up a good bit of the night, but I slept like a dead woman.

Day 4:

After a quick breakfast at McDonald’s, we hit Elvis’ Birthplace. They preserved his childhood home, made a museum, bought the building he used to attend church in, built a chapel, etc. In case you hadn’t guessed, Elvisologists take their jobs and themselves very, very seriously. It was fun, though. We also hit downtown Tupelo, and visited the hardware store where Elvis’ mother bought him his first guitar.

On a side note, wouldn’t it be a pain in the ass to live somewhere that idolized an entertainer if you yourself were not a fan of said entertainer? You’d have to move. Here's Maggie's best Elvis:

Anyway, after leaving Tupelo, we ate lunch at a cute little Meat and Three in Alabama, we hit the road, and made it back to Nashville in time to get Lola just before the vet closed.
In all, Matt biked over 70 miles, we had some good laughs, some great meals and a wonderful chance to spend time together.

Highly, highly recommended. I’ll try to post some pictures, but you know how I am. All talk, no action.

Peace out!

PS - Matt did actually get a cold, and two days later, so did I! Oh well.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I wasn't born yesterday!

Yes, yes - I know I owe you days 2 – 4 of our Natchez Trace Recap, but first…

Happy Birthday to meeee…

Self-Deprecating Self-Portrait, Age 35:

Yes, that’s right Gentle Readers*, Mother Everett** is celebrating her 35th year on this planet today.

All in all the celebrations were low-key – though I was surprised that one of my favorite members of the management team remember and wished me a Happy Birthday first thing this morning – he’s a good guy, and that meant a lot to me. I got a lot of nice greetings from friends and co-workers - talked to my family, of course - and had a treasured phone call from Connie - who sang me Happy Birthday as Bill Murray. Perfect!

Matt and I spent the evening together – we had dinner at August Moon (lame fortunes not even worth sharing) and for my present, he bought me an objet d’art:

So we found this little shop in Natchez which carries pieces by Brandon McRainey – he uses bottle caps to make frogs, crawfish, armadillos, catfish and so forth. Given that this lovely creature looks like my Lola and is made from beer bottle caps, we had to have it. It’s in the kitchen and it makes me smile daily. I got the dog last week -then tonight, he gave me Flight of the Conchords' newest album. EXCELLENT!

My sister sent some cheery cherry dishtowels, a wooden bowl and some artwork from Henry. Matisse has nothing on my nephew. Mom says their card arrives tomorrow. Which I like - we have to extend birthday week til Friday.

That said, this is going to be a fun week, which, frankly, I am going to enjoy.

Tomorrow I get to sleep in a little, do some training and plow through a few things at the office. Thursday is Project Runway day and of course, Friday – costume day at the office, as a prelude to Halloween. I can’t yet disclose my plans because I don’t want to tip off any competitors who may be lurking. Suffice it to say, I made my two final purchases last night (spray blood) and this afternoon (fake flowers). Now I get to put it all together and win a sweet little prize. I hope. Not that it matters (LIE - it matters terribly).

Saturday, aside from being Halloween itself, is a big day of its own. Matt and I had a guy come to the house last night and give us an estimate on new flooring in the downstairs bedroom. For anyone who knows me, this has been an item on the wish list for some time, and I decided over the weekend that the time to act is NOW.

So, James of Empire Carpets (who looks just like the guy in the logo) measured the room, made a few calculations then gave us the bad news and the good news. Bad News Item # 1 – Ceramic Tile would be a bad choice for the bedroom. I disagree, but he made the point that in an older house, the tile is more likely to shift and crack. Point reluctantly taken. Bad News Item #2 – Hardwood would run $1700. Um, no. Then we got the good news – new carpet would run us $500 soup to nuts.

We decided to take the plunge, and our installers arrive on Saturday. I still wish ceramic would have been an option. I’m not entirely convinced, but you can’t argue with the price of carpet, and it has a fifteen year warranty. So. Yeah. The color is a medium sandy brown color called “Milky Way”. I suspect that if you took a Milky Way, threw it in a blender and pulverized it, the color would approximately match my new carpet. So, that’s that.

I may not fall into that all-important 18 – 34 demographic any more, but life is still good.

So yeah, happy birthday....toooooo meeeeeeee.

And as my late grandmother would have said, "Let's let that be it."

*Why, yes, I do sort of think my writing is Dorothy Parkeresque, don't you?
**While I am not actually a mother, I often call myself this - it just seems kind of homey and nurturing.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Travel Diary - Day One Recap

Here's part one of the recap from our trip.

Day 1: Despite the fact that Matt and I are convinced we'll be up super early, we, along with Lola, sleep til 8:15. I shower and load up the car, Matt taxis Lola over to the vet to board, and by 10AM, we are more or less on our way.

Around noon, we hit Tishomingo, Mississippi, where we attempt to locate a place to pee (not easy in this bustling metropolis), and Matt preps for his bike ride. I drop him off and head down the trace ahead of him. In an effort to do something wholesome and noteworthy, I walk the trail at Donivan Slough, and take a few photos to prove it.

Slogging The Slough

I then head toward Tupelo, where I need to get a bottle of wine for dinner (part of the recipe, not medicinal). I end up at a shitty little liquor store where I buy an overpriced bottle of red. I then hit the Kroger for a bottle opener and some gas (hey, I can only plan so much), and finally, head to the Chick Fil A for a restorative lemonade. As I am leaving Chick Fil A, I notice a live chicken scratching around in the greenery bordering the restaurant. It was a scruffy little thing, and I got a few pictures, but mostly the bird was shy and didn't want anything to do with me.

"Lay off me, man, I'm just here for the Waffle Fries!"

Back on the trail, I get a call from Matt that he's met up with some other bikers and will be on the bike for another hour. We set a stop on the trail as a meeting point and I head there. The stop had a gift shop, some photos from the trail that rangers had taken and so on. I killed a little time there, then went back out to the car and paged through my new Southern Living for a bit. Shortly thereafter, two bikers in jerseys, hauling a one wheeled trailer pull up and ask me if I'm waiting for Matt. He was about five minutes behind them. We talked, their names are Tommy and Dickie (Smothers?) and they're from Louisiana.

Sure enough, Matt and another biker pull up. The other biker is Emmie - she is from Switzerland, she's eighteen and adorable. She bought her bike at Halcyon near our house and has hit the trail as part of her post High School effort to see the USA. I offered her our phone number so that if she gets back to Nashville, she can come for dinner. Matt's biker gang are all going to get hotel rooms in Tupelo, but Matt and I have reservations at a campsite 45 minutes away, so we say goodbye, load the bike onto the car and head to Stinkin' Jim's Horse Camp in Houston, MS.

We arrive, and the guy who greets us looks at us as though we've lost our minds, planning to camp in such cold weather. He talks us into setting up the tent in their pavillion - a barnlike building that has electricity (lights, not heat) and running water. Sounds good to us. After setting up the tent with Matt, I start dinner - tortellini soup. We eat dinner, take some photos and Matt showers. We play a few rounds of MadLibs and crawl into the tent.

Seriously, if all camping were like this, I think I'd be a happier camper.

A few hours pass and I wake to hear the sounds of our soup bowls being licked and banged together. I unzip the tent enough to see a gray furry streak retreating. Five minutes later, it was back. We bagged the dishes, threw them in the car and went back to sleep without incident.

It got down to 35 that night, and while it was cold, the worst part of the cold is getting up in the morning. Which I totally did. But that would be Day 2, and that's another post altogether.

To be continued!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hi boys and girls!

Just a quick hit to say that we're home!

And you never knew we left, did you? As a safety precaution here on the interwebs, I opted not to announce that we were leaving our house unattended for four days until after we got back.

As Matt complimented me earlier this week, I'm starting to think more like him now.

I'll tell you all about the Natchez Trace journey tomorrow, but now I'm going to check on my husband, who has a cold.

Let's hope I stay resistant!


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Operation: Oktoberfest - Success!

Last night was our Second Annual Oktoberfest at Seb and Alex's. One broken bottle of wine, one burnt pretzel, and way, way too much food later, we've wrapped for another great year.

Since I don't officially turn 35 for another week and change, though, I think I'll just chill and enjoy my last few days of 34 in contemplation.

I haven't blogged much either this month or last. Mostly because I don't have much to say. I'm spending a lot of energy in places where there is no return on investment - co-worker who won't show up on time, that I'm supposed to coach, but she has no impetus to change as there are no adverse consequences, drama to which I am a bystander, etc.

I also think I'm using up my clever on Facebook, which is a major timesuck. I think for year 35, my goal will be to let go of people and situations where my return on investment is insufficient.

That's it for now.


PS - Photos as soon as I can snag Matt's camera and grab them. The cake was especially nice.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Party, Animals

So I went down to the ATL last weekend for a baby shower at my parents' house. My mother and a few of the neighbors threw a shower for Amanda - a friend and neighbor I've known since...forever.

The shower was lovely. I had a small scale anxiety episode, and rather than talk to people, I spent the first hour taking pictures of the food and decor. To wit:

Large Jug of Mimosas - Lovely and Tasty

Shrimp Platter - Classy!

World's Cutest Petits Fours

Hard to say why I wasn't feeling it, but I'm sure it's that I don't have any way to relate to motherhood, and I felt like I had snuck into Costco without a card, and was just waiting to get kicked out.

As the party broke up, I hightailed it to PetSmart to snag the pugs from their day at the "spa" - our way of removing them from the party and preventing any molestation of innocent guests. Shortly after they got home, The Dude lifted a leg on Henry's toy crate. I laughed because it reminded me of the fact that The Big Lebowski kicks off with a "Chinaman" peeing on The Dude's rug. Laura was less than amused. She washed out the crate and cleaned the toys. Here they are chilling out waiting to dry.

It made me laugh. Sort of a Nativity of the Damned or AA Meeting of Misfit Toys.

It's all good - and hopefully some day we can all look back on this and laaaaugh!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Writer Blocked

I can't think of anything new and interesting to say - so I'll just stick with a few of the old standbys:

- I wish I had more money

- I wish I had more time

- I wish I could get more sleep

- I wish I had more energy

- I wish they had a high-speed train that went from Nashville to Atlanta

- I love Zumba

- I am suffering from low-grade puppy lust

- I can't find my black shoes or my other black shoes

- Project Runway tomorrow

- Looking forward to birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving

I don't know when I got this boring, but so be it.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sunday Night in Music City

Great weekend - we did some work, had plenty of time for play, and I did not spend an obscene amount of money.

But I still want that blouse.

Quick hit list - we saw Zombieland last night with Alex and Seb - made even more fun by drinking two Zombies at August Moon before we went to the theater.

Today, we hit the Y, McKays and finally, I got my fabric for Thanksgiving. It was crazy cheap, and I now wonder if she rang me up wrong.

Now, laundry, find fall and winter shoes and unwind for the week ahead.

Hang on tightly.

To make the merry-go-round go faster. So that everyone needs to hang on tighter. Just to keep from being thrown to the wolves...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday Night Enlightenment

I'm not perfect, but generally speaking, I am comfortable in my own skin.

Speaking of, my skin and everything beneath it was feeling exhausted today, so I hit the Cool Springs Mall for a chair massage - there is a crew that does them there in the middle of the mall. $20 and 25 minutes later, I had been beaten within an inch of my life. Totally worth it. Nothing like getting the crunch out to start a good weekend.

No big plans. There is a blouse I've been eyeing at Macy's, but the juice probably isn't worth the $queeze, if you know what I mean. But I still want it. Hmmph.

Work was interesting this week - lots and lots of training. Which is good, but still tires me out if I pull both sessions in a day. Luckily, I'm good at what I do.

Speaking of both Macy's and being good at what I do, yesterday while perusing the racks, I started talking with a woman who is a Line Rep for INC and Style & Co. I gave her some of my thoughts, and it was kind of fun talking with her. I've never met a stranger, as we all know.

I miss working retail. Mostly.

I am going to need to start shelving the summer clothes this weekend - the sandals have to go, and I should get rid of my ravaged pedicure rather than let it look scraggly. If I had a load of dough, I'd get one last pedi for the year, to get my feet ready to go into cold storage, but as it is, I think it'll be a DIY job here at the house.

I kind of want a chill weekend. I feel like reading the paper, taking naps, watching a little TV.

I guess we'll have to see.