I’m Still Here, and Ready for My Re-Do

I’ve been gone so long from WordPress that I forgot my password. It’s actually just a hair off of my normal everyday password.  My brain just couldn’t get there. Thankfully, I try to keep important things like passwords in logical locations, and in the event I ever find them, I consider myself lucky as hell. As you can see, I’m lucky as hell.

I don’t know where to begin. We moved last Spring, and let me tell you, moving was a terrible and thrilling experience. Leaving the home we’ve known for 13 years, I thought it would kill me. Moving to a new neighborhood so far away, ahem, about 3 miles away, but damn far enough that we had to change our phone number, was scary. We had a fun, easy peasy phone number once upon a time, and now even after 5 months I can barely remember the new one. That was the rotten surprise of moving, along with the work. I’ve never been so tired in my life as I was the day the truck came!

I had so many memories in the old house, which was a drag on my conscience, but you know what? I brought the memories with me, so it’s ok. The new house feels like home, too, and the memories from the past didn’t vanish. That’s the thrilling part, along with the newness of living in a different place. I can still remember my children’s little carefree selves, picture them in the old house the way it was when we lived there.

Except now the new owners of my old dark red brick house have tried to tarnish my memories by painting all of the trim white. You know when you move 3 miles away, you occasionally have to drive by the old place and check it out, and when I say white, I do mean whiiiiiiiiiiiite. As white a white as you can imagine. A lack of color kind of white. They painted my old house a shiny bright lack of color. Not sure why I care, but I kinda do. I don’t want to know what colors are inside now either, nope, I don’t care, yet I kinda do…

Also during this time, my good friend, Carrie, decided to pick up her stakes and head for her dream state. Her dream state is South Carolina, or is it North Carolina? At any rate, it should not be confused with my dream state, which is, well, an ordinary dream state. More like a stupor, really. Yep, One o’ the Carolinas is the place she thought to be, so she packed up the truck and she moved her famileeeee… beach, that is…  fair temps… golden sand.  It’s not the same here without her. Your friends miss you dearly, Carrie, but we know how happy you are frolicking barefoot in the sand, and trying to make nice with the hurricanes.

Me, I feel like I’m just trying to keep in step with all the change. Kids grow up, dogs grow old, and we do, too, and it happens so damn fast. Wish it would just slow down and let me enjoy it at a leisurely pace, let me have some of that time back, a re-do, if you will. I feel like the hare, but I think I want to be the tortoise. Does the tortoise see more because he’s slow, or does he miss more for the same reason, can’t get there in time… and the hare, does the hare miss more because he’s always looking ahead, or does he see more because he gets there first? Interesting question, sort of. I think I want to be a turtle.

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Shoes I Would Not, Could Not, Wear

Here’s something you will never see me wear… the Sky Heel Shoe. Nine inch heels from Hell. Pure discomfort. Yessirree, fashion gone mad, and ankles gone… well, ankles just gone. Imagine doing the cha cha in these things! Check them out below, picture courtesy of http://news.softpedia.com/news/9-Inch-Sky-Heel-Shoe-Will-Be-Tallest-Available-in-Stores-166402.shtml.

Speaking of discomfort, and for that matter, fashion gone mad, check these babies out:

Picture courtesy of http://fashionmodel.mtx5.com/tag/crazy-fashion/, these are called the porcupine killer shoes. Guess that means if you find yourself on the wrong end of a porcupine (most any end will do), you just might come out ahead.

Or the toeless boots, picture below courtesy of the same website named in the previous paragraph:

Now, tell me, just what is the point? No, I don’t really want to know. I call these the “owwwies” which is what I would say if I stepped on a rock wearing these things. Or maybe the “ewwwies” after stepping in something squishier and much smellier than a rock. I would say something like that, if I survived being pitched forward on my face after stepping on or in you name it, or after stepping on or in nothing at all. Look at the angle of her foot. It defies geometry.

I could go on, the web is full of pictures of these crazy shoes. Personally, I’m a boring shoe/boot person, just ask any of my friends, opting for 2-inch or less heels, or no heels, in normal colors. Cute styles, in my opinion, but pitifully normal. Me, I’m afraid of all of these shoes. Definitely, they are not for the faint of heart. They are only suitable for the most poised and graceful among us, models trained for the catwalk. Or maybe not. A particular video I saw a couple of years ago comes to mind (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-cqUj99zMI)…

Yeah, I felt sorry for her, once I stopped laughing and could breathe again. Now, if she had only worn her SENSIBLE shoes…

Mystery of the Missing 42 Minutes in Baseball

Watching Rangers baseball on tv.  Guess it’s also Yankees baseball, but not from our perspective down here in Texas.  Just Rangers baseball, and the Rangers have made Rangers history… finally.  They’re in the playoffs, and here we are in game 4 of a series with the Yankees.  It’s been a long time since I watched much baseball.  It’s nerve-wracking, like any sport can be when you want your team to win.

I have a couple of observations about baseball in general.  First of all, it is one long-ass game, and second, much spitting is involved.  Spitting must be required, or at least recommended, or in the alternative, gum chewing.  Woe be to the poor guy who can’t summon up so much saliva, or who doesn’t like chewing tobacco and/or has TMJ and can’t chew gum.  It’s obvious that some of these guys are chewing tobacco, such a lovely hue to their spittle.  I don’t notice near as much spitting or chewing in other sports.  Does it somehow make them better ball players, because dang me, these guys are really good.  Or, is it just a habit,  a nervous thing, chew or spit, chew or spit, because they have nothing much else to do?

Seriously, the other day I heard about a study of pro baseball games.  The study supposedly proved that there is an average of only 14 minutes of live action in a pro baseball game, and for the record, apparently that is 3 more minutes of live action than in an average pro football game.  So, for all of you out there who think football is so much more exciting and has more action than baseball, think again.  Three minutes less, my friends.

Let’s see what makes up the rest of those 3-plus hours (using my own methods of scientific time measurement)…

  • Spitting or gum-chewing, there has to be at least 14 minutes of spitting or chewing gum/occasional bubble-blowing (Edit – Actually there is much more spitting and gum chewing, there is at least 180 minutes of spitting and gum chewing, but only 14 minutes televised specifically for our viewing pleasure)
  • Scratching and/or repositioning the twins, good for at least 10 minutes
  • Waiting for the pitcher to psyche himself up to pitch, this takes half an hour at least
  • Standing around sizing up the opponents, good for another half an hour
  • Breaks between innings, maybe 40 minutes

14 minutes of action, plus 14 minutes of spitting, 10 minutes of scratching, 30 minutes of psyching, 30 minutes of sizing up, and 40 minutes of breaks between innings adds up to 138 minutes, still 42 minutes shy of the 180-plus minutes in an average game.

I don’t know WHAT they do for the remaining 42 minutes, but by the way, Rangers are ahead 7-3 in the 8th inning.  It’s not over yet, though.  Yankees just loaded the bases.  Come on, Rangers!

…and don’t bother telling me if I got my math wrong.

Select, Salivate, Read and Savor

I am an excellent reader. When I can’t think of what to write, then I just fuhgeddaboudit and read a book instead. I’ve actually become a bit of a book snob. Not snobby in the sense that I can only read “literature” or best sellers, or award winners, or that I even know what I’m talking about when it comes to books. No, I’m just snobby in the sense that I try only to select books that really interest me, because I find that reading for pleasure is still an effort for me.

I love to read, but it’s an effort? Sounds like a contradiction, so let me explain. I’m not the kind of person that sits down and reads for hours until I finish a book in the wee hours of the morning. I might as well just pop a sleeping pill and go to bed. There are few books that could truly keep me awake if I was tired, and I am always tired. I read in spurts, chapters here and there, always anxious about the next short block of time I can carve out just for reading. I sometimes read during my lunch hour, in the car at soccer practice, or before I go to bed at night. My progression through a book is a little like watching a soap opera, except that unlike watching soaps, eventually I do finish the stories.

This technique is known in scientific circles as SSRS. That’s no BS, truly. You can tell that’s no BS because there are no vowels in either SSRS or BS, so it must be true. It goes like this – SSRS – select, salivate (um, figuratively), read, and savor. After going through this process, then I rush to the book shelf to start over… SSRS. So exciting! Yeah, I really don’t get out so much…

It sounds hokey, but to me reading a book is a little like opening a door and stepping into a different reality … what’s behind door number one? Number two? Lots of little doors I have opened this year so far, fourteen to be exact. A modest accomplishment for some people, but I’m pretty sure it’s a record for me, and it’s still just October.

I try to finish every single book I start, so I definitely don’t want to select a stinker because I will feel compelled to read it anyway. After all, someone spent a year to write the dang thing, I should at least be willing to spend a few hours a week to read it. Not sure why I’m like that, maybe I don’t want to hurt the author’s feelings. Only a couple of times in my entire life have I started a book (meaning, a novel) that I didn’t finish, and deep down I felt a little guilty when I closed those books and decided to put them back on the shelf. One of the books was as dull as dry toast. I don’t remember a thing about it except reading words for about ten pages and suddenly thinking, I am reading this book but the story is missing. Then skipping back a few pages and trying to find the story. Forward ho again for twenty more pages, and then, I just couldn’t do it anymore. I’m so sorry, nameless author, I couldn’t finish your nameless storyless book. The other one, Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. Definitely a story here, but I couldn’t get past the first five pages. I attempted it because it is my friend Carrie’s favorite book (or one of them) and, of course, it’s a classic. I enjoy classic literature sometimes, but this one is more difficult than most. Either that, or I am not such an excellent reader after all. Or maybe I wasn’t in the mood to think so deeply.  Whatever, that book is a bi-atch! It still sits on my shelf, daring me to pick it up, and I will… someday.

So, check out the books I’ve read on the Just Books tab, if you wish. That tab holds a few of my excuses for not writing regular posts for my blog. There are about a million other excuses why I don’t post regularly, but that’s another blog post. Still, my blog tugs at me from time to time, when I ignore it for weeks on end. It is like a living being begging me for attention, not so different from Zoe bringing me a smelly sock. Write me, it says. No, I’m reading, I say. Then bite me, it says, but I just can’t listen to such negativity.

So Long República Dominicana, Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow (Part Seis)

We had one more full day in the D.R. before reality set in. Didn’t do much on this day except exactly what we wanted. What a drag, to do whatever you want. I guess that could get old. Think it might take a while, though.

I’ll leave you with a few random pictures.

Johnny actually had to work a few hours the last day we were there. The rest of us slept late and well, as I said before, did what we wanted, meaning not much. Here’s Johnny’s office for the day, under a little cabana in a quiet section of the resort. We strolled by to visit the poor working guy. Not a bad little office. I think I could work here.

Chess anyone?

Somehow I managed to walk around poolside for a number of days before I spotted this huge chess board. Nothing slow about me, no sirreee.

Sara and I were strolling the beach and whaddaya know, we ran into some celebrities! In full finery, balloons and all! Ladies and Gentlemen, below is a fuzzy picture of Sara and The Spice Girls…

Such a nice group of girls, and so shy, too!

I haven’t mentioned yet all the entertainment in the evenings. After dinner, we went to see the shows, rain or moon shine (not moonshine, remember this is the land of Mama Juana). Every show was entertaining. We saw The Spice Girls, a Jazz show, and a couple of others. The best one was a Michael Jackson revue. It was raining that night, and we were late and had to stand in the very back of the audience, our butts barely out of the rain. The guy was fantastic, but I did not get a picture of him, unfortunately.

Here we are having fun at one of the evening shows.

Sara and Alex loved the D.R. because it was “legal” for them to drink alcohol. Sara was just shy of 21 on this trip, and Alex is 18. So, poor sober Daniel had to put up with all of us all week. Actually, we behaved ourselves for the most part, and in reality, we pooped out most nights and shut down kind of early. Long days on the beach and running from the storms combined with a couple of afternoon toddies every day just made us want to check in early.

Check it out – Alex is stylin’!

Love Sara’s necklace – and such color coordination!

Here are the old farts…

We all had our new bling on except Johnny. He didn’t want bling, but we’re glad he comes along to buy us bling! Daniel decided to heck with us that night and went back to the room for peace and quiet, and a couple of apple pie à la modes from room service. We actually let the kids order room service on a few nights. We have NEVER done that, but figured WHY THE HECK NOT?

Here are a few pictures of the resort…

Inside one of our rooms… the one with the bed still made.

In the lobby area. The huge lobby area.

Thought this was a neat shot…

I loved this carving. Think he needs some coffee,though.

The World Cup score board…

Unfortunately, vacations have to come to an end. Such a beautiful place, and in spite of the rain, what a lovely vacation we had. All five of us together is a rare treat these days in any location, but so fabulous to spend seven days together in paradise!

Here we are at the airport again.

Passing underneath a Big Ass Fan. That is its name, if you can see in the picture above. Although it looks like you can’t read it without enlarging it, Dumb Ass Camera. There were an abundance of Big Ass Fans in the Punta Cana Airport, and I’m convinced there’s not a more deserving place in the universe for them to be.

A little serenade before boarding the plane. I don’t know what they were singing, but they sure seemed happy to see us go…

Bye-bye, República Dominicana! I hope to come back some day!

That’s It. That’s All She Wrote. That’s The End of This Story. Finally.

Mammajuana Snorkel! (R&R Part Cinco)

The rain cleared up the next day, so the snorkeling trip was on. We took a short drive, then boarded a ferry. Up on the top deck, we could see forever. A couple of family shots aboard the ferry.

Ahoy matie, check out this pirate’s ship…

First stop, before snorkeling, was to pet stingrays. I’ll just say right off, I was not too happy about the conditions here. Johnny and I went to the Cayman Islands a few years ago where we took a sailing excursion. We sailed to a sandbar where the water was 3 feet deep, at which point we got in the water, were handed a bucket of shrimp, and stingrays swarmed us like drunks to a beer joint. We stood holding raw shrimp, and the stingrays swam up to us, around us, even over us, sucking the shrimp from our hands as they passed by. This had been my only experience with stingrays, and we were told at the time to just watch where we stepped, and we would be fine. We were, despite the constant screaming from one woman who spent the entire experience atop the shoulders of her significant other, but that’s another story.

This time, I felt terrible for the stingrays trapped in a small penned area just for our viewing pleasure, and for the $$ we bring to the tourism industry. There were nurse sharks in a second larger pen also. I felt guilty for participating, still I wasn’t going to jump the ferry and refuse to join at this point, but I felt kinda sick as we approached. We had no idea what the situation was for these awesome creatures.

The smaller section you see above was where we pet the stingrays. The barbs on these guys had been removed, so no danger, and thus no chance that these creatures could ever live in the wild again if for some reason they were set free. We didn’t have the opportunity to take pictures of the stingrays. The bigger portion of the pen was where we saw the nurse sharks, and Johnny snapped the picture below.

Here are all five of us in the larger pen with our snorkeling gear. Not the person on the right side, don’t know who this is but he/she does bear a striking family resemblance…

Once we left the prison cells of these poor creatures, we boarded the ferry and headed for our big snorkeling experience. It did not turn out to be so much snorkeling, but it was an experience!

We could not take such good pictures under the water because, as you know, the weather had been stormy, and guess things were stirred up. Here’s one, though.

Oh, what’s this strange white long-legged sea critter…

oh wait, that’s me. I’d know those skinny legs anywhere.

Hey there, Daniel!

About this time we started hearing a horn and lots of yelling. We had been in the water for only a short while, and I finally figured out what the commotion was about. They were yelling at us to get back in the boat. What??? Why?

Which boat, where’s the boat…

We suddenly had some serious weather. Seriously. How surprising!

In the chaos that ensued, well, don’t guess Johnny had much opportunity to document on camera, because the pictures stopped at this point. It was pouring, the seas were rolling, everyone was yelling, heads were bobbing, and I was frantically looking all around for my family. People made their way to the boat and jockeyed for position around the ladder. I saw Daniel, and we managed to grab the ladder, but somehow ended up behind it. The waves were knocking me into the boat and I had to brace myself against the boat with my legs. Just hang on to the ladder, I told Daniel, hoping I didn’t sound as panicked as I felt. We waited for others to get on board and tried to squeeze in to line up at the ladder. I saw Sara and Alex off in the distance, and yelled at them to get on the boat. They said, MOM, we are fine. Get on the boat! So, Daniel and I got on the boat, Sara and Alex got on the boat, and I did not see Johnny anywhere.

People gathered under the upper deck of the boat for shelter, except for me. I could still see bodies in the distance trying to get back to the boat. A conversation Johnny and I had before we got in the water was now stuck in my brain. Johnny was intent on signing a waiver allowing him to forego a life jacket while snorkeling since he’s practically a fish. Practically. We discussed this, and whether the kids should do this also… NOT, said mom, and not me either, by the way. I did not remember or really know if he ever signed that waiver.

Rain pouring, I was seriously in a panic by now, visions of Johnny being swept away, and single motherhood looming before me. I yelled at one of the guys working the boat… THERE IS SOMEONE STILL IN THE WATER OUT THERE!!! He said, lady, we’re getting everyone, don’t you worry. BUT I THINK THAT MIGHT BE MY HUSBAND OUT THERE!!! Then from behind me, I think it was Alex, said … Uh, Mom, Dad’s over here…

Oh, really??? Don’t you worry about me dear, I’m just over here sucking down the Mama Juana shots… Well, I’m so glad you’re safe honey!

It was a sight. Boat rocking, rain pouring, music blaring, the dancing had begun. The rain had slowed by the time this next picture was taken. I only show it to illustrate what a shot of Mama Juana can do for you. It doesn’t make you beautiful, but it can make you lose all manner of dignity and not care that you’re not beautiful, and have great fun doing it.

On second thought, this has to be someone else, it could not possibly be me…

So, in spite of my distaste for the penned up stingrays and nurse sharks during the first part of this excursion, I was grateful to the tour operators for saving our scrawny butts from the storm. It was dicey, and they did an admirable job of getting everyone back to the boat safe and sound. They were also incredibly entertaining!

Mama Juana, by the way, is defined below by Wikipedia, that indisputable source of superfluous information:

Mama Juana is a drink from the Dominican Republic that is concocted by allowing rum, red wine, and honey to soak in a bottle with tree bark and herbs. The taste is quite similar to port wine and the color is a deep red. It is seen and advertised as an aphrodisiac, with many natives of the Dominican Republic claiming that the drink has similar effects to Viagra. Women have also claimed that Mama Juana enhances sexual desire.”

I can vouch for the port wine taste, but that’s as far as this discussion will go…

One more post ought to do it, final thoughts and pictures regarding our experience at the resort, and our departure. You gotta stay tuned for the finale!

And the Rains Came Down (R&R Part Four)

Oh, the rains came down and the floods came up.  They really did.  All day long the day after our trip to Saona Island, Tropical Storm Alex let loose on the Dominican Republic.  If you’ve ever wondered what rain looks like coming off of a thatched roof, well, here you go. 

  

I loved the thatched roofs.  What’s even better, they don’t leak!  We sat under them all day and watched the weather.  A couple of us even enjoyed the weather!  If you’ll notice in the background, the workers are sweeping the rain water into drains to keep it from coming into the dining area.  By the way, Daniel was NOT looking at the camera, but rather at something incredibly interesting over there

and again, Daniel was NOT looking at the camera, but this time at something fascinating up there… and Alex was NOT enjoying the rain, and was likely bummed at the prospect of little or no beach time in his immediate future.

Daniel is wearing his official USA World Cup jersey.  If I didn’t mention it before, our vacation began shortly after the World Cup started this year.  We saw World Cup jerseys from many countries, and we heard plenty of World Cup banter in various languages.  Interesting week to be in the D.R.!  

Here’s a little crab who was unfortunate enough to cross our path that morning.  He was kinda pissed at us, a bit crabby, in fact, but we didn’t have so much to do so we had to play with him.

Poor Sara was a little under the weather on this rainy day… get it, she was under the weather?  Weren’t we all?  She more so than the rest of us, though.  In fact, she stayed in the room most of the day.  We checked on her from time to time when the monsoon eased, and brought her medicine.  She finally emerged in the late afternoon, still feeling a little iffy.

Meanwhile, the rest of us had already drank our weight in alcohol for the day (well, not Daniel).  He’s only 14.  I’m not that bad of a mother.  My personal favorite was called a Banana Mama.  Not to be confused with the Mama Juana, which I’ll talk about next time.  The Banana Mama is practically fruit in a glass, with rum, of course.  See below for a possible recipe I snatched from this website:  http://www.gasblender.com/recipes.htm#BananaMama

Banana Mama

1-1/2oz. light rum
1/2oz. dark rum
1 oz. banana liqueur
1 oz. cream of coconut
1 oz. fresh or frozen strawberries
2 oz. pineapple juice

1.  In blender, combine light rum, dark rum, banana liqueur, cream of coconut, strawberries and pineapple juice with 3 oz. crushed ice.

2.  Blend until smooth

3.  Pour into goblet, and well, you know what to do next.

That’s one of the many recipes I found, but it sounds about right.  A wedge of pineapple on the side was the only visible fruit, maybe a cherry.  Should have taken a picture of one, darn!

So… we had a decent buzz going.  When it rains, you gotta do something.  Drink and play cards, I say! 

We purchased this card deck from the little store at the resort since our cards were in our room and we were not.  This deck was labeled Naipes playing cards.  Numbered 1 through 12, the cards had some funny pictures, and no face cards.  I just thought it was a Spanish deck, but I now see several descriptions of Naipes playing cards on the net (including tarot cards) so who knows what we were playing with.  I’m not sure if I’m going to hell for playing poker, playing with tarot cards, or drinking excessively.  I’m pretty sure neither of those things are acceptable tenets of Methodist doctrine…

In between games and watching the rain, we took pictures and walked around when it wasn’t pouring.  Here are a couple of more pictures of a flamingo.

and a turtle…

Here’s a picture of Sara, feeling much better!  Or could be she was under some kind of spell after that card game…

Until next time…  Stay tuned for our snorkeling excursion!