Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Paint it Red

Our new red front door is a prime example of why I don't proffer up helpful little tutorials or DIY tips. One of the blog's I visit on a regular basis offers up how to's, complete with pics of every step of the process and usually some whiny "it took us three whole days to finish it".  Yeah?  Cry me a river, pal.  For my latest project, in order to put accompanying pics out there, we'd have to get film developed.  Yeah--that's my timeline.  It doesn't span days, it spans years back to the days before we had a good digital camera.  Forget three whole days.  This project took a whole six years, give or take a few months.

Here is my latest "project":

Yes.  A measly red door.  To demonstrate that I am not merely being theatrical for theatrics sake, here is the honest to goodness timeline of how long it took to get to the almost finished state that it is in now.

  • 6 years ago, decide to paint door red.  I'm all about red and it took me approximately 2.5 minutes to settle on the color "Ruby" at Lowes and have a cute little can mixed up.  Without a doubt!
  • 5 years, 11 months ago--stash Ruby in the closet in the same bag we brought her home from Lowe's in.  She has her key and her stirrer in there to keep her company.  Reply hazy.  Please try again!
  • 5 years ago, Ruby and her buddies move to a cabinet.  Outlook not so good!
  • 4 years ago,in effort to avoid cleaning house, J takes Ruby to be reshaken and defeats the purpose by stashing her in an undisclosed location. Most likely!
  • 5 months ago--Ruby is still MIA.  Very doubtful!
  • 3 months ago-sister "Scarlett"acquired from Home Depot.  As I see it, yes!
  • 2 months ago--door removed from hinges. Furniture moving pad hung over the hole in the house.  Week of living like hobos commences.  I ignore the swarms of insects coming in and refrain from making any Lord of the Flies comments.  It is certain!
  • 2 months ago--day 2.  Door back on hinges, hobo cloth still covers hole in front of house.  Scarlet is looking pretty fuchsia.  Must have another coat.  You may rely on it!
  • 1 month ago-- Give up hassling with hobo door cover.  Paint the third coat of scarlet while the door is closed & decide whatever shade she dries , we will live with it.  Yes!
  • Today--Scarlet finally dry enough to put our vinyl address cling out.  Address put out.  Now I don't like it.  Ask again later!
There you have it.  Six years, two paints, one brush, one vinyl cling later and we're done.  All except the kick plate.  I would put it on, but frankly, I don't know where it is.  Give me another 3 years. Maybe I should just consult the Magic 8 Ball.

Friday, September 23, 2011


To simply say that Laurie Notaro is my favorite writer is like simply saying Ewan McGregor is my favorite actor or saying Marcos Baghdatis is my favorite tennis player or saying the Titanic was just a boat.  News of this importance and urgency NEEDS ALL CAPS!!  And an extra exclamation point for emphasis!  I have every single book she's written (Kindle form, of course).  If she ever makes her way to the east coast on a book tour, I would actually *buy* a book for her to sign.  Yes, a hardback book.  That's how extreme my liking of her writing is.  Given my love affair with the Kindle, that in itself speaks volumes, plus it would be kinda awkward to have her sign my chest.  Her memoirs literally make me LOL (which, BTW, I hate that acronym even more than I hate decaf coffee), to the point that the rest of my family stares at me like they would the crazy guy on the street who talks to himself and the poor girls start to ask if the wonders of modern science can successfully replace my DNA in their genes with that of Selena Gomez.  With titles like "The Idiot Girls Club" and "The Flaming Tantrum of Death", no wonder she appeals to me.  She's writing ABOUT me!  Maybe that's why I like her--she writes about her slightly off-kilter life and makes us "beat of a different drummer girls" seem cool.  I mean, if it's in print, it's cool, right?  Right? Please don't refute this, as I prefer my bliss in the form of ignorance.

I finally got around to checking out her website (being unemployed at leisure is quite time consuming) and saw  a link for her Facebook club.  Turns out, it was actually a link to send a friend request.  Yes, a friend request.  Not merely a club to join or a page to "like", but an actual friend request.  I figured that I had nothing to lose in sending a friend request and since I haven't shown up on her doorstep with a cow's heart in a box or something equally creepy, there was no restraining order against me to prejudice her acceptance.  As I get a lot of unknown requests after I do a Fox 8 morning show which I automatically ignore, I figured it wouldn't hurt to include a line or two to let her know that my intentions were innocuous.

This is the message that I wrote along with my friend request, "I'm a huge fan but not a scary stalker.  Or even a stalker."  We all know that nothing says "I'm not a stalker" like saying "I'm not a stalker", but I felt that upped my street cred and ultimate friend worthy-ness.

That was over a month ago.  I figured that she had just clicked ignore on the crazy lady and that was that.  Yesterday I got this in my Facebook inbox:

19 hours ago
Laurie Notaro
  • You are so funny! If you staled me, I'd bore you to death. Seriously. Spent an hour looking for an earplug today. I am that much of a loser! xoxox, Laurie

See that??  She added me as a friend AND wrote me back!  AND (and this is a very important AND) she said I'm funny!  Right there in print!  I'm funny!  That's like having Kobe Bryant give me a high five for an assist.  Or Baryshnikov tell me I really nailed that triple pirouette.  I feel like a member of some super exclusive club, with a super secret handshake and super cool uniforms.  Granted, she may have been high on Ambien (after all, she did have a typo on "stalk"), but I will take it anyway I can get it!! (extra exclamation point for added emphasis)

Laurie--if you ever happen to fall down the internet rabbit hole and find yourself reading this blog, I beg you, PLEASE come to North Carolina on your book tour.  There are tons of Idiot Girls waiting here for you.  But not scary stalkers.  Or even stalkers, as far as I'm concerned :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Camco N Da Houz

The tv happened to be on CBS this afternoon, right where I had left it when The Bold & The Beautiful went off.  I was sitting on the couch reading Allure helping Pey with her homework, when I caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye.  I had to rewind Let's Make A Deal to see if I really saw what I thought I saw.

My old lady eyes are still sharp and I HAD seen what I thought I saw (I sound vaguely reminiscent of Tweety Bird--I taugt I saw a Puddy Tat) !  J's company Camco's logo was right there on hat sported by a contestant.  Even Wayne Brady's shaved head couldn't distract me from that blue and white logo.  The same logo that J has worked for longer than he's been working for me.  Pey confirmed that I wasn't crazy and that it was indeed Camco.

So I did what every sane person would.  I recorded it.  And took a pic.  And texted.  And uploaded to Facebook.  And now I'm blogging about it.  I would tweet, but this is waaaay too much for a measly 140 characters.

This contestant was dressed like a straight up hip-hopping, rap star.  He even had a 'do rag on under the hat.  He was all up in da hiz-ouz, know what I'm sayin'? (I really don't know what I'm saying, but I thought that sounded vaguely Snoop Dogg-ish).  He was hard thuggin' in a Camco hat.  For those of you who don't know (and I'm guessing neither did the contestant), Camco makes after-market RV accessories--the fluids you put into an RV (antifreeze, holding tank chemicals), the necessities that go along with RV's (sewer hoses, wheel chocks) and the things that make life easier in the RV (slip stop to keep the dishes from sliding in the cabinets, party lights for the awning).  Camco is boss in the RV world.  However, they are about as far removed from Hip Hop as you can get.  But yet this guy chose the hat to complete his 50 Cent imitation.  

J took my text pic to his boss and to other people at Camco.  The CSI: Let's Make a Deal version has begun. The hat dates from circa 1994.  That much we know.  How it got to that guy is a mystery.  Even bigger a mystery, why he chose to wear it on air.  Whatever the reason, it worked.  He got chosen to play a game.  I have no idea if he actually won, because I was too busy being a 12 year old girl & texting all my friends.

I think Camco needs to track that guy down and give him a year's supply of TST (holding tank chemical) or Rhino Flex sewer hose.  It's the least they can do for all that free advertising!

Dining with the Dawgs

Seven years ago when I was hired by Interline Italia, I hung up my waitress apron, did a victory dance and swore off waitressing forever.  I was never, EVER going to waitress EVER again.  I was good at waitressing.   Very good.  What drove me to figuratively spike the football in the endzone was that the customers were bad.  Very bad.  Sure, most of them were polite and incident free, but there were those who almost pushed me to the brink of pulling a Norma Rae and jumping up on the table to rally support for unionization of waitstaff. The worst offenders were the ones who had very little influence or control in life in general, so they would take out their aggression on the waitress--the only person on the face of the planet who they could boss around and get away with it.  Given that I worked for my father in law, I was bound by my marriage license to take it.  With a smile.  And a semi cheerful "come back to see us".   When I sarcastically listed things I'd rather be doing than whatever it was I didn't want to do, the list usually ran "have a root canal, do my taxes, or wait tables".  It would take an act of Congress, a hostage situation or a natural disaster to make me ask "What may I get you to drink?".

Turns out that the natural disaster occurred in the form of my naturally doofusy brain pinning down my normal thought process brain in the easiest wrestling match ever, as my normal brain is very puny and weak--it doesn't get as much exercise and exposure as does the doofus version.  When cornered by the PTSA president last week and asked to "help" at the Dine with the Dawgs at Pizza Inn, my brain couldn't come up with a plausible excuse fast enough.  The president lives on my road and she'd surely know if "I'm having my tires rotated" (don't laugh--I have used that one on more than one occasion), "I'm out of town" or "the water main burst and the house is flooded" weren't true.  I had nothing.  Zip.  Zilch.  Nada.  The gig was up.  I was under the interrogation lights and I folded.

I held out hope that they would assign me to the drink station or even busing tables.  After all, over 10 people were slated to be working at that time and surely someone else would love to wait tables, right? RIGHT?  I showed up all eager and ready to fix drinks.  As soon as I signed the waiver, releasing Pizza Inn from indemnification in the event I sever an arm with the pizza cutter, someone came up from behind me and tied THE APRON around my waist.  They had tied the proverbial bell around the cat's neck.  I was stuck.

Get a good look now.  Me in an apron is like seeing Hailey's Comet--few and far between
Summary report--it wasn't so bad.  People came out in droves to support the school.  Plus, I had the added perk of claiming that I was an "amateur" and automatically had immunity from scrutiny.  Tips went directly to the school and people knew this, so they were willing to overlook my lack of knowledge over the menu items.  I didn't spill any drinks.  Most people ordered buffet, so there weren't many actual orders to screw up.  I didn't trip any senior citizens.  And the best part?  At 8:45 I handed the apron off to the next sucker volunteer and I went home.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Why Be Normal?

Back in the Mesozoic age, when I was in high school, the seniors would write their official quotes on 8 1/2" x 11" paper and decorate them to adorn the English room.  It didn't take very long to come up with mine, "Why Be Normal?"  I personally don't have a problem with normal, but it's just, well, average.  I don't like being labelled one thing and expected to act accordingly.  Likewise, I don't like acting completely opposite of a label, because frankly, that's trite and expected too.

I have always marched to the beat of my own drummer.   Not because it was expected.  Or unexpected.  I go my own way simply because I want to do my own thing.  I enjoy being eccentric.  I was country when country wasn't cool (really bad example here, because I have never liked country so this is not to be taken literally).

That is why I say I am a "don't-call-me-a-soccer-mom mom".  I refuse to be stuck with that label and automatic description of minivan-driving, mom-jean wearing, easy-listening radio mom.  By definition I am a soccer mom, but that doesn't mean I'm going to live up to somebody's idea of what I am and how I behave.  On the contrary.  I wear my red lipstick, Chucks and skinny jeans to every practice.  I read Vogue & InStyle on the sideline.  I listen to metal bands from the '80s.  And perhaps even sing.  Offkey.  Loudly. The important thing is while I may not look the part at first glance, the end result is the same.  Pey gets to practice and I do what I have to to get me through practice.  Is she any worse for the wear because her mother doesn't have gluten free snacks on the sideline and doesn't wear a twinset?  I think not.  I honestly hope that I'm teaching more about being true to herself than what is expected by other people.

The other day as I was finishing up the painting of the Hoosier (part of the Great Redecorating Marathon of 2011-2014, a conservative guess), I happened to look closely at the canister set I purchased at an antique store in Swansboro back in July.  Only last week when I was putting it out on the newly painted piece of furniture did I realize it was a lot like me.  I had purchased myself for $50.

Most canisters I've seen have sugar and flour as the staples.  I've seen rice, coffee and tea also tossed in.  What I've never seen is farina.  Yes, I know that means flour, but it doesn't say flour.  The smallest of the two are for ginger and nutmeg.  Two spices that are common, but not so common as to need a canister (unless you're Mario Batali and will be freshly grating them over some Tuscan dish).

I thought it was the color scheme that drew me to the set.  Upon further thought, I realized I was drawn in because they are a lot like me (and no, not because they are short, uber white, old and cracked).  The end result is the same--they hold kitchen stuffs--but they have found their own means to that end.  And I think that makes them even better.  Not expected.  Not unexpected.  But rather, mapping out their own course.

And don't they blend nicely with the rest of that section?

The lion came from the house I grew up in.  Rumor has it that it is Italian. This time I choose to accept rumor as fact. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

0-2, 4 and 0, 6 and 6

This was the first weekend of any true action for our various troops.  Mid September, the air is still warm and --Wait, huh??  Highs in the 50's and rain?  It's not cold and rainy in September.  It's cold and rainy in November! Guns 'N Roses even devoted a whole song to it!  Apparently Mother Nature is more of a Simon & Garfunkel fan and didn't get the memo.  If I were a sports writer and searching for a cheesy cliche', I could easily write that the Fire was extinguished by the rain.  Yes, PeyPey's team is called the Fire (and yet our jerseys are white.  Maybe it means we burn WHITE hot! I'm stretching for a logical tie in, cut me some slack) and yes, they played twice and yes, they lost both times.  Thankfully Pey is happily gathering butterflies on the field (the only thing I can figure out with her sleeves pulled down so far she looks like she's a clipper ship at full sail) and isn't really into winning or losing.  Or even playing the game for that matter.  She is in her own little fairy world out there.  She loves it, so carry on.

A tasty beverage and scurvy prevention in one.
Later that night, my good friend Robin the Abandoner (she will forever and a day be stuck with that moniker as her punishment for abandoning me during my Baghdatis needs) invited me to come out with her and my other fabulous mother of 2, Lisa.  Robin does a lot of the PR for Finnigan's Wake in Winston and they were celebrating their new expansion--doubling of their dining area and bringing their beers on tap up to 40.  Yes, the big 4-0.  The good kind of 40.  The kind of 40 I actually look forward to.  I was on my best behavior and had 2 of the 40.  Now I have 38 left to go!  Plus, Saturday night marked the halfway point to St. Patty's day and if there is ever a reason to celebrate, that is it.

See how good I look when Robin actually takes the pic?  In the center and not doofus looking!

Lulu had her first swim meet of the indoor season at the brand, spanking new Greensboro Aquatic Center (or the unfortunately acronymed GAC).  This place is super nice and super new.  And spacious.  For the claustrophobic person in me, I am greatly appreciative of the space factor.  It was the good old prairie days.  We staked a claim on a back row and the closest homestead was a whole section away.  Pey had enough room to be a free range kid and I didn't have to worry with her wandering into someone else's territory without cattle rustlers rebranding her.

Lulu has a new coach this year and Coach Nathan is the rockstar among coaches.  The Van Halen of coaches (David Lee Roth version, not Sammy Hagar).  While we were saddened to hear about Coach Rob moving to my old stomping grounds back east, we were like, totally, stoked to the max (yes, I'm aware that valleygirl speak and classic rock and roll do NOT go hand in hand, but it's Sunday and I'm lazy) when we heard about Nathan moving to the Greensboro Star Aquatics site.  Coach Nathan rocks in a playing the guitar overhead with his teeth kind of way and obviously so does his coaching.  Lulu had the month of August off from swimming and has only had 5 practices under his tutelage.  She swam hard and looked smooth.  So smooth she finished 6th overall in both the 50 Breast AND the 100 Breast and was the top Star finisher in those events.  Over the course of 8 events, she dropped a total of approximately 21 seconds.  Rock on Lulu!  

The only time it is appropriate for you to vandalize your child with graffiti.
My entertainment between swims.  Sadly, I left my ipod in my car :(

And lastly, for no other reason than the Gruesome Twosome said "take our picture" and proceeded to thug out in their best thug manner, and also because I can't think of a witty ending summary paragraph, enjoy the scene from our Friday night dinner.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Grandma's Corner

The main reason I started this blog was so my mother could it keep up on the doings of the Sound and Fury because I stink at relating said doings when prodded to do so on the phone.  Today, given my current unemployed leisure status, I find myself enthusiastically watching paint dry (literally, as I'm waiting on the second coat to dry on the Hoosier before I apply the third).  Yes, the house is still one newspaper and a dead cat away from qualifying for an episode of Hoarder's, but hey, I'm unemployed at leisure and have lots of time to clean (in theory but in reality those Twitter feeds won't read themselves).  Plus, goofing off on the computer is more fun.  For the sake of the family's financial future, I have been banned from ebay, so blogging it is.

This post is merely a post for posting's sake.  I'm pretending I'm being productive because I've convinced myself I'm doing this for my mother.  So here you go Mama--some pics I snapped of the Gruesome Twosome before church Sunday.   They clean up nicely, don't they?  They look like they like each other and get along, but we all know from personal experience that appearances can be deceiving.  I would slip into writing about how quickly they are growing up, but that would probably turn me into a crying mess and make me feel like Charlene Darling (an Andy Griffin reference, if you're not from NC).  Plus, all the humidity from the tears would make it take longer for the paint to dry.  And I really have to get back to work.  Really.  As soon as The Young & Restless goes off.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Standing Room Only

My good friend Neill & I met on the set of a movie, so naturally when he asked me if I'd give him a hand on the set of his own movie, I said yes.  Neill is one of the smartest individuals I know--he designs airplane engines for a living.  I can barely figure out how to get my engine to turn over in the car and he engineers them!  In his spare time from working on Mensa-esque projects all over the globe, he wrote his own screenplay, hand tooled most of the machinery on set, fully equipped the production with cameras and lenses, wrote, scored and recorded all music, and  is calculating how to end world hunger during his commutes to & from set (or so I'm guessing).  I am always keenly aware of my grammar and pronunciation when I'm around him, because he would know if I left a participle dangling or ended a sentence with a preposition.

It is an extremely small production, just a handful of crew on any given day.  The upside of being so small is that I get to wear a lot of different hats (given my affinity for hats, I'm sorry to report that I'm speaking metaphorically) and get to learn lots of different aspects of film making.  Today I was a stand in and slater (slate girl? slate clapper?).  That might sound fancy and exciting, but the truth of the matter is, on any film set, action is slow and mundane.  The stand in part means a lot of standing.  Or sitting, depending on the scene.  I stand in one spot while the rest of the crew work on getting lighting and lenses just right.  I stink at being still.  I will spontaneously combust when forced to stand still.  I have tried my best.  Really, I have.  Last month, the camera guys thought the floor was shaking the camera, moving me out of frame.  It was really just me, doing ballet releve's.  They feel the pain all my schoolteachers felt. They just can't threaten to call my mother and give me B's in conduct.  I cannot be still.  I'm sure they would gladly replace me, but I'm even worse at working the camera than standing in (bet you didn't think that was possible).

In addition to acting as the stand in (I was standing in for a dude, which given the fact that the star of the film is a blonde, former Miss North Carolina, I come closer to looking like him than her), I also got to work the slate, which is this nifty thing:

Here, you can see that the "take" is blank.  I had apparently fallen down on the job and forgotten to write it in.

Look, it's truly so easy frogs can do it:

Maybe I need to get my act together and stand still.  Or at the very least, get the slate part right.  I might be replaced by frogs.  I bet they'd have problems sitting still too.

The Third Act Movie I promise the film will be a whole lot more interesting than my writing about standing in.  Neill wrote it and he's smart.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

AmBush Hill Heritage Festival

Today was one of those rare days where we only had morning practices on our schedule and the rest of the day was ours.  We played man to man defense--J took Lulu to swim & I had Pey at soccer.  Pey happened to be the only girl on the soccer team today.  She wasn't phased at all--scrapped along with the boys.  At 6, she's just one of the guys.  In 10 years, she will love being the only girl.  Can't get any better odds than that.

No snappy caption.  Just my baby girl kickin' it with da boyz.

Once we had all  reassembled at home base, we decided to visit the annual Bush Hill Heritage Festival.  Let me preface the following by saying I hate crowds.  I come from a small town in waaaay out in rural eastern NC, population 600 (give or take a stray dog).  I graduated from a small Christian school with 14 kids in my class.  I am accustomed to space.  Lots of it.  Where I come from, houses are few and far between.  And people are even fewer and far-er between-er.  I like being able to have a wide open path if I need to flee, say, a running of the bulls or even worse, an army of free hug givers (true story--ask my friend Mary Margaret).  I have avoided Bush Hill Heritage like the plague.  It would take an act of Congress to make me go willingly into those crowds on a very hot day.  An act of Congress or an act of begging and pleading by the Sound & the Fury.

The girls & myself all take dance at Magic Feet Dance Company here in Archdale (Ms. Kody is so cool I want to be her when I grow up, but since I'm old enough to be her big sister, that's a physical impossibility).  Last week Kody told us that MFDC was having a booth at Bush Hill and they were going to be doing hair feathers cheap.  Real cheap.  The girls have been bugging me for feathers in their hair for months, but at upwards of $20 a pop, I told them they'd best chase down a pigeon.  Or given our location here in Randolph Co, a chicken.  Kody sealed the deal by saying her booth was close to the side entrance.  In the interest of my children, I agreed to go.

Where's Waldo?
I'm not sure where the "Heritage" part of the "Heritage Festival" comes in.  If I'd have to hazard a guess, I'd say the early Quaker settlers descended from clowns who fit into tiny cars or college students who liked to cram into phone booths.  Apparently the early Quakers existed on a diet high in funnel cake and snow cones as well.  Just my observation.

Between the heat and the crowd, I was almost in full blown panic attack mode by the time we walked by the second booth.  I spied a rival clogging team's booth & I almost switched our affiliation, just to get us out of there.  Sure the other team's dance resume might only include the Hokey Pokey, but it was right there. Thankfully before I signed us all up, J saw MFDC & we made a bee line (provided the bee was highly intoxicated and flying around in circles between people).    I parted with my money as I do so well and the girls got their feathers.  Given that I spent many a childhood summer at my grandparent's working in the chicken coop and the last thing I want associated with my person is anything that pecks, I don't understand the attraction of feathers.  But hey, I had red streaks in my hair so who am I to judge?  Plus, we had already made it this far and by golly, they were going to get feathered!

We had accomplished what we came to do & if we didn't get out of this mass quickly, I was going to have to dig in my pocketbook for Xanax.  The problem with J is that everybody knows him and it's like walking with a politician.  I had to get him out of there before he started posing for pictures and kissing babies.  Ok, not really that bad, but when you're on the verge of a panic attack, everything seems more pronounced.  Thankfully MFDC was close to the side exit so we headed out.  Before leaving, J stopped to say hi to his father, who had been there since 8am--just for fun!!!  I can think other things that pass for fun on my list before being in that crowd ; a root canal without Novocaine, being audited by the IRS, seeing Garrison Keillor, for example.

Maybe next year J will take the girls and they can see more.  As much as you can see, with wall to wall people.  I am staying at home in the air conditioning.

P.S.--seriously, kudos to the AT Chamber of Commerce.  These crowds attest to the fact that you are doing something right.  Bigtime right.

I was playing around with the photo editor and liked the look of the final pic. Makes me look all fancy and stuff.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

It's Never Quiet on the Western Front

I have come to the realization that my college degree failed to prepare me for life in the real world.  Italian?  Not using it. Not even in Italian restaurants, where, unless I pronounce bruschetta all Southern like, BREW-sket-AH, nobody understands me (then again, I have the same problem being understood in English).  Economics?  Really??  I don't think I needed that Econ 1D class to fully grasp our economic situation today (and yes, 1D was both the name of the course and the grade I received in it).   Art history?  I don't really cross paths with anybody who wants to debate whether Caravaggio's introduction of chiarscuro was the most relevant breakthrough in Baroque art (which, it so totally was, but whatever).

Viewed through the filter of a 30something, coffee-wired, rapidly-graying, short-on-patience mother, it is clear now that colleges need to offer Tactical Military Invasion, 101.  That is what  would have served me better than Human Origins.  At this point in my life, I don't need to know from where we allegedly come but I desperately need to have a firm grasp on where on earth we are going, or at least a vague inkling.

To say J travels a lot is an understatement.  He did a rockstar-esque tour of Asia for a month this spring.  Yes, a month, missing Easter AND our anniversary.  Yes, he  still owes.  When he is gone, that leaves me with the task of figuring out how to make the magic happen.  I don't think magic is quite the word I'm going for here, but it sounds more sparkly than the word logistics.

Here is a recent case in point:  J has to take a trip to the West Coast and that will leave him gone for the better part of a week.  That in itself is no problem.  Toss in the Sound & the Fury's activities and it gets complicated, to say the least.  Yes, I know we have brought all of this overscheduling upon ourselves.    We opt for this insanity for the betterment of the girls--broadening their horizons and making them well rounded individuals or something like that.  They asked to partake in these activities and as long as they are interested, we'll keep at this insane rat race. I am the antithesis of a stage mom and have had no push for these particular activities in any way, shape or manner.  Trust me, I would love to be selfish and stay at home, eating Doritos and watching a marathon of RuPaul's Drag Race.  That's how I roll.

This is where Schwarzkopf has to tip his hat to me (I know I just showed my age by naming Schwarzkopf as my general of choice, but at least it wasn't Patton.  Or worse--Sherman).
Stormin' Norman.  Not to be confused with our neighbor Norman.

One night during J's oasis of peace and tranquility with hotel roomservice, business trip, here's what I have going on--Sound, swim practice from 4-6 in Greensboro; Fury, soccer practice 5:30-6:30 in Trinity.  Breakdown:  30min drive one way from Trinity to GSO.  Therefore, I have in front of me, Option #1--I'd  take Lulu to GSO, come back to Trinity, drop PeyPey off at soccer, drive back to GSO to get Lulu and be back in Trinity by the time PeyPey finishes.  But what if Pey's practice ends before then?  What if Lulu's practice doesn't end at 6 & then I can't be back in time to get Pey?  Do I risk it?  Don't feel good with that, so I revert to Option #2--get the babysitter to pick Pey up from soccer and take her home until I get there from fetching Lulu from swimming.  Fine. I think I have it.

What's this?  Crap.  A note from PTSA that Open House is going to be that SAME night?  From 5:30-6:30? The same Open House that Pey has been drawing pictures of her family for her parents to see?  The Open House that Lulu has been drawing important American historic events on paper plates for her parents to see? I can't miss that.  Let's think a while.  Option #3.  Take Lulu to swim in GSO.  Run back to take Pey to soccer.   Ask another swim mom to bring Lulu home, sparing me the hour in the car so that will free up some time to hit Open House.  Still, I'd have to cut it short to run back out to the soccer field so as not to abandon my child and send her spiraling into a lifetime of therapy.  Which brings us to Option #4.  Take Lulu to swim in GSO.  Run back to take Pey to soccer. Beg another swim mom to bring Lulu home.  Run to Open House.  Get babysitter to go to soccer fields to get Pey.  Firm up the rear flank with the infantry.  Have the paratroopers drop in from the western front.  All hands on deck.  Two if by sea. Fire when you see the whites of their eyes.  Ask not what your country can do for you.

Confused?  So am I.  I need some Motrin.  My head hurts.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Good Night Irene

I confess that I don't know what tone to take with this post.  I was conflicted and still am; do I write with the usual self deprecating snark or adopt a more subdued, solemn tone?  When Hurricane Irene didn't turn out to be the diabolic storm the media had anticipated, damage coverage dwindled.  A part from reporting on Vermont flooding, media outlets quietly packed up and left eastern NC.  As far as the world is concerned, life on the OBX carried on as normal.

My family home on the Outer Banks is slightly north of the hardest ravaged Rodanthe and Hatteras area.  An area, now cut off from the world when Highway 12 washed away.  Not merely flooded, but literally obliterated. Our house stands at MP6, oceanside.  We were lucky.  Very lucky.  Usually when storms hit, the surge pushes the Atlantic Ocean well beyond it's normal perimeters, flooding our road.  Flooding our house.  This time the storm hit harder on the sound side.  We escaped with minor shingle loss and window breakage. At the risk of redundancy, I reiterate--we were lucky.

Headed to the beach, we saw areas on Highway 64, flattened by the tornadoes spawned in the wake of a the hurricane.  Entire houses, gone.  Their foundations the only remaining hints that they once inhabited the landscape.   I would have loved to gotten pictures, but instead I respected the families, picking through the debris of what used to be and their right to grieve in private.

I was wary of what awaited on the island.  Given the state of the tornado stricken areas, I was honestly scared.  Once there, we rode around and got to see for ourselves what wasn't being broadcast to the world.  Here are a few pictures I took.
Hwy 12 to Hatteras.  Closed at the Bonner Bridge.

Our usual kayaking point, closed off because the public pier is no longer there.

Debris fields lined the soundside roads.

This debris pile was over 8' tall.
As we rode around, it became apparent that eastern NC people are resilient.  They were cleaning up and getting back to  normal the best way they knew how.  Some of them even showed an ironic sense of humor.

They decorated the debris.  Love that spirit!
If the people who were so harshly effected by Hurricane Irene could make the best out of their situation, then I can hold out hope for a speedy return to normal for them.  I continue to keep them in my thoughts.  I'm sure they will continue to amaze.  God bless!

P.S.  I couln't resist just one last pic to help me close this post with some levity.

Yes, this person had bagged up all the marsh grass debris already.  I'm sure he's also a morning person.  And drinks decaf.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Turtle Time

I am old.  I am jaded.  I am haggard.  I don't drink decaf.  I'm not a morning person. I don't do cutesy poo.  I have seen a lot and it takes a lot to impress me.  The NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island managed to do just that. Surprise!  And it's not even my birthday!

We hit the aquarium Labor Day weekend, because the crowds are virtually non existent and frankly, I prefer going when we actually can see the fish, as opposed to the rear ends of other tourists and when my ankles aren't faced with playing dodge ball with a bazillion oversized strollers.

For ages upon ages, in the waaaay back, waaaay buried right hand corner of the building, the aquarium housed a  non interactive exhibit about hurricanes.  I grew up in eastern NC & frankly, an exhibit about hurricanes was tantamount to looking into my family albums.  If I wanted to to relive such scary moments from my youth, I'll look at the geeky, pimply, braces pictures in my yearbooks in the privacy of my own home, thankyouverymuch.

This year as we rounded the corner and prepare to dodge the photographer who always wants to take our picture in front of a green screen ("act scared--they'll put a shark behind you when the pic is printed, for $20"), we saw that the little hurricane corner had changed.  It is now an uber cool, sea turtle rehab lab.  Granted it is super cute, but not so cutsey-poo that the whole experienced is dumbed down for the mere sake of increased sales of stuffed amphibians in the gift shop.

Upon arrival, the "lab techs" are asked to don their coats and choose their turtles.

Not since Beaker, has there been a lab tech this cute.

Once the girls got their turtles (I guess it was a bit much to ask Lulu to don a lab coat--she is 10 and a master of eyerolls), they went to the diagnosis tables.  The turtles (or Laverne & Shirley as I liked to call them) went up on the scanners and the "techs" ran blood tests and xrays and other diagnostic tests (which I forgot, because I'm old) to find out what ailed them (the turtles, not the techs).  What was so cool about this part is that due to some sort of technological wizardry, each of the girls had a turtle and each of those turtles had its own ailment--no one size sickness fits all here!  Maladies for everyone!

Diagnosis was obtained and Laverne and Shirley went to the treatment center.  Once again, each aliment was treated in its own specific manner.

Wax on.  Wax off.

Um, no thanks.

Once the turtles were treated, they went in a little "aquarium" to spin until they were ready for release.

Completely rehabilitated,  Laverne and Shirley were ready for re-release into the ocean.  I think I may have shed a tear.  We had bonded.  I was like their grandmother.  We waved goodbye and took some pictures.  God speed our good friends!  Tell Lenny and Squiggy hi!

They grow up so fast :(
My intellect thanks you, NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island.  Kudos for coming up with an interactive exhibit that actually teaches kids and enthralls parents.  Thank you for thinking first of education and not increased sales in the gift shop based upon some cutesy poo cartoon turtle.  The Sound and the Fury had a great time AND they learned.

Like the Terminator, we will be back!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Don't Have A Cow, Man!

Before I start this entry, I have to give a little backstory to those who know only that I "ain't from 'round here", but aren't really sure where I am from 'round.  I grew up in rural northeastern North Carolina.  In a little town.  So little, that in order to dispel any doubt about how little our town was, the town even decided have the word "little" in the name.  I was raised, like four generations before me, in Littleton, NC.  The little town with the big heart, or some other saccharine nugget on the sign on Highway 158.  Mayberry looked like a bustling metropolis, compared to Littleton.  We had one stoplight and four churches.  And lots of little old ladies (again with the little).  At the time, I didn't know any different as my whole life had been lived in Littleton and little and odd were the norm.  Things that passed for routine take a very different light, now that I grown up and gotten physical and mental distance from Littleton.

Having said that my hometown has more eccentric citizens than Northern Exposure and Twin Peaks combined, I still worry about my family down east during hurricane season. My parents live there, as do my great aunt & her family & my aunt & uncle.  And my fiesty, 85 year old grandmother, Ma. Last Saturday as Hurricane Irene pounded down on the little town, I posted to ask that my family take good care of my Ma.  Here is what my great-aunt Mary replied:

I was so worried about my family that this post vaguely registered.  I scanned to see the "we are all ready" and given that my aunt Mary lives practically in Ma's backyard, I was relieved to hear that the hatches had been battened down.  It was only the next day that something was nagging me about her post and I had to go back to reread it to find out what.  How on earth did I miss the casual "walked her cow around while winds were 85 miles an hour".  A cow??  Is this some sort of animal husbandry that I've never heard of?  I went to school with lots of 4H'ers.  I know cows & this was no ordinary cow! Was the cow getting ready to calf?  A cow on a leash in the midst of one the worst hurricanes North Carolina ever experienced?  We lived in city limits, for crying out loud.  This wasn't some little house on the prairie.  It was a little house in Littleton!  We were supposed to be civilized!

My mom and Ma came to visit last week, after Irene blew through, and as we sat at our favorite breakfast place, the topic of Hurricane Hazel came up.  I couldn't let this golden opportunity pass by.  I got Ma to talking about her recollections (my Ma is about as sharp as they come--she doesn't forget anything, except for where she left her eyeglasses).  After Ma told me how the anntena for the tv set for which she had saved for weeks and weeks and which she had purchased a mere two weeks earlier came crashing through the window, I had to get clarification about the cow.

"Ma, I heard from Mary last week and she told me the story of your neighbor walking her cow during the big winds of Hazel," I said.

"You know how Mary is--it wasn't during the actual storm, it was during the eye of the storm.  Not like she was out there walking her during the bad stuff," she replied, never looking up from her eggs.

I couldn't believe it.  My poor grandmother had become so used to the small town oddity that to her, walking a cow in the eye of a hurricane was an absolutely normal occurance.  She didn't even bat an eye when I questioned her further, "Eye of a hurricane of not, what on earth was a woman doing walking her cow?  A cow isn't like a dog.  A cow doesn't need walking.  Hurricane, spring showers, sun or snow, a cow isn't a house pet.  WHY WAS SHE WALKING HER COW???".

Ma never looked up from her plate.  "Well, she was always a little bit off".

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Mad Viking #4

Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition. Whether it be true or not, I can say for one that I have no other so great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem.
Abraham Lincoln

J's current peculiar ambition is to be enshrined in Spanky's Hall of Fame.  To be considered eligible for an induction, one must consume a grand total of 5 Mad Viking's over the course of a life time.  J had 3 in the history books and Hurricane Irene damage or not, he was determined to add another one and bring him within spitting distance of the Hall of Fame by Thanksgiving.  A man has to have lofty goals to keep him inpsired.

Spanky's is our favorite cheap eats hot dog stand on the OBX.  Spanky himself is the verbal offspring of the FedEx/MicroMinis fast talking guy and Lorelei Gilmore, a veritable auditory barrage every time you walk in the door.  Spanky's has quickly become the habit forming nictotine of our vacation, as we are too addicted to quit and need hits several times over the course of our stay.

What is the Mad Viking?  The jewel in the crown of Spanky and the retirement fund of many a cardiologist, a Mad Viking is a 2 lb burger--4 patties of manly man beef.  It's small enough by Man Vs. Food standards to be considered feasible, but large enough to provide a daunting challenge to anyone not named Adam Richman.  Or feed half of the nation of Chad for at least a week.  Over 1100 have been eaten to date.  Not sure how many difibrillation paddles have been given out, but I'm guessing around 1100.

J had been preparing all day--a light biscuit for breakfast and lots of diet drinks.  He ordered and Spanky unleashed his well rehearsed "cheesetomatolettucemayonaiseonion?" because we all know that what 2 pounds of beef need are extras on top of it.  Spanky added "friesnofries?".  J realized he knew him limitations and opted out of the fries and went with a Diet Pepsi, to keep his girlish figure.

When a Viking is delivered to the table, Spanky's staff rings a bell and shouts "Viking".   So the whoooole restaurant knows to look and point.  Game on. 

That's my uncle in the background.  I'm sure he's lost in thought, as my family is well known for our deep thought process.

When J ordered his first Viking last year, it came complete with instructions--dismantle it.  Pull out two patties & eat them by themselves.  Then eat the remaining two on the bun, as if it was a normal hamburger.  Normal by Fred Flinstone, brontosaurus burger standards, perhaps. 

 Going, Going, Gone. 

Lulu, being the ever vigliant daughter, decided to time him in his quest.  Here's is how he clocked in:

Notice the split time--the second leg was in pace with the first.  Then again, the bun may have slowed him down in turn 3.

In ten and a half minutes, he consumed a side of beef.  He signed the list, got his pic snapped by Spanky for posterity and got a sticker, which he claims will look sweet on my new car.  In the words of Bartleby the Scrivner "I prefer not to".

There is an episode of the Simpsons in which Marge Simpson is on the witness stand for a trial where Homer had sued an all you can eat seafood restaurant for kicking him out before he got his fill.  The lawyer asks Marge "After you were thrown out, what did you do?".  Marge replies "We went FISHING" and sobs into her hands.  I had that Marge moment.  After consuming that much food in one sitting, J wanted to get dessert.  We went to Sweet Frog and this is what he had

Personally, I would have gone for a stomach pump or at the very least, a Rolaids.  Not J.  Go big or go home, apparently.

Now on to #5!