photo du jour

During our garage sale, the jaw-dropping moment I realized my sister snuck in the bridesmaids shoes I bought her for my wedding. After some thought, I agreed that $2 was an honest selling price. Look how the sunlight just gleams off the design.

I think they ended up going to Goodwill.

The Woodlands

My sister, A., and I went to the Woodlands today. It was the last day to bet before they closed the pens for good. I had never gone before and debated about wearing a bustle dress with a big floppy hat. Instead, I opted for my signature “is she attending a funeral somewhere?” outfit.

When we arrived, I was greeted with what I imagine NASA looked like in the 70s. Little cubicles with state of the art monitors watching the shuttle take off.

We had arrived several hours after the first race and wandered around the stadium sitting down at various tables before their owners came back to boot us off. Even if it was just a pen laying there, that meant the table was taken. And these people were ruthless. I mean, more so than if you cut in front of someone at Sizzler’s buffet.

Eventually one man got sick of watching our rigmarole and offered his table. We debated about ordering a Denny’s breakfast as the tables looked eerily similar. And what beats pancakes and gambling?
We were pretty excited about our first bet. A. ended up breaking even on this round. On the next, I won $30 for a $2 bet. I took my mom’s advice and put all my winnings in my purse. At the end of the day I was up $1.50. Nice for two hours of fun!
A man studying the menu, er- the odds of each greyhound. We brought the median age of the group down by about 40 years.
After spending just enough money, we started to wander around the complex. The lady at the entrance had told us there were no outdoor seating. And then we stumbled upon these benches! We felt outraged, put-on, and…
lonely. These weren’t exactly the popular seats. In comparison, the indoor stadium felt like Wall-E, with every one’s faces staring at a screen instead of watching something live.
We tried to bombard our way into where they keep the greyhounds, but Don was on top of his game. No way was he letting us past the ‘authorized’ area, you know, even though it was the last day. They stayed strong to the end. Let’s tip our hats to them, boys.
A. felt a kindred connection with Greyhound #6 after he “looked into my eyes, Carrie. I swear it” and wanted to go back in and bet on him. Or that might be the gambling addiction trying to find any excuse to play, A..
Instead, we stood on the side of the track and watched them to do a lap. It’s not until you can hear their paws pounding and their panting that you can appreciate the skills this particular breed of dog possesses. I hope they find good homes and don’t turn into something used to paste a kindergartner’s school project together. They really are beautiful.

Laugh it up at your Library

My mom has a bright turquoise t-shirt that says “Laugh it Up at your Library!” in big cartoonish letters. We usually end up just laughing at her and it instead of the library, but we like when the shirt makes an appearance all the same. You may recall in my earlier post my new-found object of affection, the Kansas City downtown library. Well, it drew me back only two days later. (I was never one to play it cool.)

R. & I headed out early last evening. It was a clear, mid-80s night. Absolutely perfect. We wandered around the 5 floors looking at various antique hutches and benches, and then came upon the children’s room. Oh, to be a child in an invigoratingly imaginative room. On either side of the entry way were pages of a book. As you walk in, you run into a sitting area with a felt tree that reaches the ceiling and little mushroom stools. I had to keep myself in check and not look under a stool for the Alice in Wonderland caterpillar. How I wanted to grab a book, lean against that man made patchwork tree, and read the day away. The ironic thing is that the only child in there was on the computer playing solitaire. So many friends around (albeit imaginative) and solitaire is the pastime of choice. To each their own.

After wishing I could turn back life’s clock, we wandered down to the basement. And to our delight, came across a tiny movie theatre located in the old vault. It was cleverly named “The Vault”. How have I not come across this in all of our cinematic travels? Don’t beat yourself up this late in the game, Carrie. Look to the future.

But, my most favorite morsel was on the top floor balcony… The life size chessboard. When I first saw it, memories of 5th grade came flooding back. My beau and I would sit in the back of the room everyday discussing hammerhead sharks while his knight flirted with my bishop. We later had a very serious break-up after our recess touch-football team lost to the 6th graders due to his tactical error. We almost had ’em. It still makes me upset.
Before playing, R. and I placed ourselves in the position of the piece we most embodied. He chose the pawn and slumped his shoulders. I chose the Queen. And not because I looked like a drag queen for senior prom, but because she has no direction. She just kind of wanders all over the board. The King & I got to know each other and like all of my relationships, it ended up being either hot or cold. One minute, we were snuggling up with each other…

..and the next I was yelling at him to clean up the bathroom, for god’s sake.

Even though I was content with my game board balcony…at one point during the match, I glanced around and saw an even higher rooftop with potted greenery. What was up there. Was there an even bigger chess game? Or even better, did it house a life size Connect Four?? What am I missing out on??? At that moment, R. yelled Checkmate….

…and this is what I saw. The board after our first game. Notice how many total pieces were captured and placed on the sideline. No, your eyes aren’t fooling you. There’s only one. That’s my pawn, who selflessly died protecting his king. Needless to say, I wasn’t laughing it up. But R. was.

Photo du jour

Little known fact about Carolyn that normally wouldn’t have been shared if not for a computer screen’s false sense of security. She buys the gigantic Costco size box of Fiber One bars.

Please continue discussing ‘Last of the Mohicans’ dialogue.

Golf & Gangsters. Perfect Pairing.

Raise your hand if you didn’t try and spend all weekend outdoors. It was beautiful.

Friday evening, we finally made it over to our friends S. & L.’s house. I think it’s been over a month since they’ve made the transition into home ownership, but as what always occurs* in the summer, time slipped by too rapidly. We came as wise men with our gifts.. one of which will be revealed in a later post as I’m starting to notice a trend in my gift-giving abilities [or inabilities].

We set up a play date for the following day at our local par-3 course. I recently finished my first round of lessons with an 80+ teacher named Buddy, who liked to yell “I wanna see your hips MOVE, Carrie!!” I never knew golf was so much like salsa…and why was I all of a sudden wearing a dress and heels? Anyway, this particular day was pivotal for me. On my first few outings, I was acutely aware of who was standing where and whether their eyes were on me as I swung. It used to especially unnerve me if it was another group hanging out (impatiently) behind us, tapping their feet and sighing really loudly as they waited for us to finish. This time, though, I could care less…and that definitely helped produce an overall extremely [mediocre] game. That made me happy. Anything higher than ‘gawd-awful’ is a win. Another slice of joy came in between the front and back nine when we took a quick break. I found cheap shoes! …and they make my feet look like a clown, which I also appreciate. Afterwards, we went to a mexican restaurant where the waiter had to literally chide us into saving room for our entree. So what if we just ate 8 bowls of chips & queso? Carolyn just played a mediocre game and it’s time to celebrate!

This afternoon, I went to the downtown library and listened to a speaker. He discussed the Kansas City mafia during the ’30s & ’40s and showed movie clips he filmed on the subject as well. Talk about penne pasta. Anyway, I’ve never actually been to this particular library before and cannot believe I’ve neglected this little nugget. I enjoyed everything from the art deco chandeliers to the parking garage’s bookcase facade.

Also, it’s always interesting to see/hear people’s reactions,well, to just about everything. When they opened the floor up to Q&A, a gentleman asked for the microphone and launched into his life history in Kansas City. He grew up in the Little Italy area and felt it was his duty to take personal offense to the subject on behalf of the mob’s offspring (with whom he went to school) as well as Italians (more specifically Sicilians) in general. The speaker then had to backtrack and explain to the audience that more often than not, mob bosses wanted their children not to enter in the same line of business. They made the money and sent their kids to the best schools so they could become doctors, lawyers, etc. So, despite his (the speaker’s) respect for the culture & history, the fact still remains that this corruption occurred** and he’s really only relaying documented happenings.

I wish someone would stand up for me and my jester-like feet.

*Every time I use this word, occurs, it reminds me of the awkward position it held in the ‘Last of the Mohicans’ dialogue. “No matter what occurs…I will find you.” Would a man who grew up in an Indian tribe in the middle of a forest really say that word? Discuss.

**There it is again.

Penne is not on the menu, ma’am.

On Saturday, I’m biting the nervous bullet and going to a Spanish conversational class at our local library. The last time I had an actual conversation in Spanish was while working as an interpreter for an insurance company 4 years ago. And even then, it wasn’t a situation in which I could fudge a little here or there. Those pleasant “talks” were recorded and used in court when needed. So, in light of the momentous occasion this weekend, I’ve decided to relive some of my more memorable linguistic moments.

As a claims interpreter, we had to speak on behalf of many different spanish dialects. Needless to say, I hadn’t really brushed up on Peruvian street slang while in college. The going got tough. Fast. ‘Honk’ was apparently a hard word for me to comprehend, for some reason. Here are a couple examples:
Claims Adjuster: “Did you make any evasive action to avoid hitting the car?”
Little ole me: “What did you do to avoid hitting the car?”
Customer: “I honked.”
[I quickly look up the word in the online dictionary. Horrible source.]
Little ole me: “I whistled.”
Claims Adjuster: “You whistled?”
Little ole me: “You honked?”
(Mind you, I’m still using the same word the customer did)
Customer: “Yes, I honked.”
Little ole me: “Yes, I whistled.”
Claims Adjuster: “I need a new interpreter.”

Claims Adjuster: “Did you honk your horn to avoid the accident?”
[Don’t use online dictionaries.]
Little ole me: “Did you play the horn (trumpet)?”
Customer: “No, I wasn’t playing the trumpet. I was driving my car.”
[Customer used a slang term for car which literally translates to…]
Little ole me: “No , I wasn’t honking my horn. I was driving my furniture.”
Claims Adjuster: “You were driving your furniture?”
Little ole me: “You were driving your car?”
(Again, I used the same slang word as the customer)
Customer: “Yes, I was driving my car.”
Little ole me: “Yes, I was driving my furniture.”
Claims Adjuster: “I need a new interpreter.”

And lastly, the ole ‘Make a Fool Out of Yourself in Front of Your Classmates’ routine. By the end of college, I had that one down. For homework, we had to describe our favorite meal to the class:

“I like penne pasta mixed with sauce and vegetables.” (Class snickers.) “Sometimes I add chicken to the penne pasta.” (Even louder laughter from the class). “Penne pasta is the best!” At this point, the teacher finally interrupted me to ask if I knew what I was saying. Apparently I was gushing “I like [male genitalia] pasta mixed with….” “[Male genitalia] is the best!”

This Saturday is shaping up to be interesting at least.

Optical Illusion?

So, a few friends & I are attempting the half marathon in October. I have no idea why I signed up. I think I’d just finished my first successful lap around Loose Park without dying and thought I was ready to move straight into 13 miles. Next thing I knew, we had a blog set up to track our miles each week to, you know, keep each other competitive. And it worked the first month …until I discovered that it’s a lot more fun to watch The Biggest Loser contestants run on T.V. while I eat Oreos.  **UPDATE** I, in fact, did not run in the race. I convinced R to move to Arkansas so I could get out of doing it. 

Actually, I really do enjoy my runs. Not 100% though, and I’ll tell you why. But first, have you ever seen this optical illusion of the lady & the hag? If you’re able to spot the two faces, you just experienced the cold dose of reality that hit me during my run last week.

Below is how I always pictured myself running. Full stride, arms pumping, and a smile on my face the entire time. Think June Cleaver meets Flo Jo. I even had the gall to give pitying looks to walkers. This was all until I caught a glimpse of myself in the local bank’s windows…

…and saw my actual stride. All of a sudden I look like I’m straight outta Cocoon heading to Denny’s to discuss my bowel movements.

It was one of the most disheartening realizations I’ve ever had. Even worse than when I found out Arrested Development was being taken off the air. I’m debating about dangling those Oreos in front of my face to pick up the pace. I’ll probably need the double-stuffed ones, though.

Disclaimer: No ladies or hags were harmed during this reenactment.

The Road More Traveled, Please.

Sorry Frost, sometimes you have to make decisions in order to survive. R. & I went to Cave Springs Nature Center today. It had been an absolutely beautiful day…no humidity and the temperature was in the high 70s. So we took advantage and decided to go on a not too strenuous hike. I, of course, packed as if we were headed to the Himalayas, with 4 bottles of water and printed maps of the hiking trails. We went to the wrong nature center first and ran into a couple who openly chuckled at my print-outs after we asked if we were at the right site. I laughed too (maybe a little too loudly) and then sheepishly folded & put them away.

Don’t look at what’s in my right hand. It’s nothing.

Cave Springs was so sweet & wonderful. Hidden gems scattered throughout…including spider webs (which I wouldn’t really consider gems, but they were definitely hidden). At one point, we came upon a fork in the path and, on a whim, decided to go right. A few yards in, we stopped at an impasse created by a spider web four times the size of my head. Or so it seemed after I came-to.

R. ducked under and waited for me to come. Now, at this point, two thoughts went through my head. Well, three actually. First, the romantic side of my brain suggested that due to the size of this web, no one had actually hiked this path for months, maybe even years. Who knew what lay beyond. An important piece of history that no one has uncovered until now? An indigenous Indian tribe undiscovered for 600 years that has no idea how technologically advanced we are? Maybe. And then on the heels of that thought was Robert Frost gently urging me to move forward in my exploration.

My last thought (and ultimately, my final one) was of my brain’s arachnophobic/paranoid side. Did the descendants of the ‘Granddaddy Spider’ plot this entrapment? He was the eight-legged fiend who lived in my basement bedroom in college. Granddaddy was so large & hairy, that when the arch of my foot landed on him while putting away clothes, I actually thought I had stepped on a sock. But surely he didn’t have enough time to spread word to his relatives of the human-monster hovering over him during his final moments. I mean, I saw him die. right. there. in front of me. Has his family been tracking me? Waiting until I had a blissful, cerebral moment with nature to catch me off guard? The answer is…

Of course they were. And I’m sure R. was proud to have such a cunningly smart wife to have deduced that. We doubled back on the trail while he sarcastically mumbled something about me needing to apply for the FBI.

Another curious park feature are the ruins of old homes that used to be in the area. Apparently, Harry Truman picnicked here quite a bit in his teens and also, a country club complete with a golf course, homes, and a lake were built in the 30s & 40s. The lake is now dry, however an algae-covered pond remains.

Personally, I love how this pond looks. At first glance, you almost miss it…or you think it’s a field or something. And then you see the thin layer of algae on top. You never think about how many shades of green (or any color, for that matter) there are, until you see it presented in nature.

It wasn’t until we were almost out of the park when we noticed a peculiar looking plant growing on all sides of the trails. Could this possibly be poison oak? Yet another attempt to bring havoc onto my life by Granddaddy Spider IV, foiled. I’ll squash you like I did him, just you wait. Just. You. Wait.

Purging for Peace

No I don’t have a philanthropic eating disorder. We’re purging our house of many belongings. Why, you may ask. Well, for starters, who likes to dust all that stuff anyway? Also, I love antiques. Not only frilly victorian stuff. I like Art Deco and Eames style furniture too. So I’m slowly going to replace everything we have to something non-Walmart/Target related — preferably items from another century. But more importantly, I’m in search of simplicity. A lot of the time I feel like I’m pulled in several different directions and then come home to rooms that continue that pull. Why do I have all of this? Really, could I live without my Seinfeld DVD collection? …or the 14 half-used candles that I refuse to throw away? Would the world end if I sold my roadside papasan (side note: please don’t tell the people on craigslist I found it on the road. i’m trying to make some dough). No, I think I’d be much happier and less cluttered mentally & physically.

In the meantime though, I’d like to share a smidget of my favorite things. I know you just sang that last line to The Sound of Music. Don’t deny it.

There is nothing like going to an estate sale and looking through old books. It’s even more exciting when a message is written on the inside. Behold, a normal looking story by Dickens.. owned by a Geneva Hagenstaff Wollard in Hardin, MO dated 10/2/1913. Maybe the date she received it?

..and then outta no where. A list of all the “boys that I have gone with since 1915-1918″. In alphabetical order. This girl was detail-oriented. Who knew there were so many single guys in Hardin, MO and why didn’t we have a girls weekend there in my single days?

And of course, the ever present substance abuse scare tactic… The Curse of Drink. (but you must say it in a deep, throaty voice.)

Note that there are two titles: The Curse of Drink (deep, throaty) or Stories of Hell’s Commerce (non-chalant, happy.) That’s how I always read it in my mind.

Poor Hugh. He was probably headed out the door to meet up with his buddies at the local tavern for his 18th birthday when his parents grabbed him by the shoulder to give him his present. Did they make a big ordeal at the “presenting” ceremony? Couldn’t they have waited until after he played Flippy Cup for the first time?

I actually knew the person who owned this purse: my grandma. And inside is her phone number, back when I swear they used letters. I used this in college for a bit and am surprised it’s still in good shape.

Lastly, of my grandma’s, is an off-shoot of a plant from her home. All of the grandkids have one and its the only plant that I care about saving. I have a fern hanging in our screened-in porch that has seen its last days. They’re like cactus right? We don’t have to water them regularly. But Grandma’s plant…I’ve got to baby it. I love that idea though….passing on part of a plant/flower/tree. And would love to do something similar for my family. Why do I now have the urge to sing from the Lion King?

Refreshing Weekend

This photo describes my weekend best. The feeling of cold, running water on tired, hot, & smelly feet. We had a long & harder than normal week which left us both feeling worn out. Nothing in particular happened, just one of those weeks. On the good side, it left us feeling mellow and quiet. Our road trips usually consist of us jabbering non-stop about the future, the past, and everything in between.. But this time we sat in silence. No radio, no voices… just watching the landscape roll by. At one point, though, we did have a staring contest with what we thought was a tiny alien on the hood of the car. Turned out it was the water sprayer for the windshield. It won.
As a reward for our vehicular decompression, we erupted in loud laughter at the sight of our welcome sign which included a photo of the horse from my previous post. I’d never noticed how forced my smile was. Foreshadowing the mountainside terror?

This is what we got to wake up to both mornings. Little J. & C. smiling nonstop (except for when Jack the frog escaped its box outside. We had to pause for some well-deserved lip trembles followed with questions about death & God.)

Saturday morning/afternoon, we headed for a state park and found a little nook of woods all to ourselves. We forgot half the food/drinks we meant to bring (even though we had 3 hours to pack), yet somehow survived. Instead we nibbled on a little of this and that, while trying to come up with nicknames for our husbands, who are both named R. It’s been rumored that I only married my R. b/c of his name in an attempt to model my entire life after K. (i.e. Single White Female). It all started with the dark-rimmed glasses junior year in college. Anyway, we came up with Slim and Twiggy. We tried to force it the entire day, but gave up after a few hours.

After lunch, we had a grueling water balloon toss. I employed the patented side lunge/volleyball dig (Coach B. would’ve been proud) while K. went for the standard Medjugorje stance. It probably would’ve taken a miracle for us to have a decent round.

Then, another exciting game of chase.
Followed by catch.
…And a walk through the creek. I managed to kidnap one of the peanuts on this journey.

This is a sign of a good day of fun.
But we still have the energy to take a classic self portrait. God forbid we go a day without one of those.

When we came home, some of us took naps, while the rest made cocktails. Namely, me & K. On the menu was pizza margherita with homegrown lettuce & arugula. I forgot to take photos of their garden which is bustling with beans, tomatoes, squash, eggplant, watermelon, & other stuff as well. Twiggy and I were salivating.

I made K demonstrate her heritage and got a great photo of Slim hollering out something in an italian accent as he slid the pizza onto the grill. He declined the opportunity to show his face on the blog, along with my husband. Which is why in all the photos Twiggy is shot from the back.

After pizza, we put the kids to bed and tried to recreate a night we had a few months ago, the last time we were up. We had played Loaded Questions and absolutely died laughing the entire night. The risk/reward ratio is always high when trying to recreate an experience, but we were determined. I think the first time we played, we were in such awe of our wittiness (well, their wittiness. I just take their answers and then tweak them as my own in future rounds) that we went in to Saturday night’s game cocky. It was still really fun, but now I think we know each other’s humor slant, so could easily pick out who said what in each round. I guess no one really knows what I’m talking about unless you’ve played the game. Let me know when you want to play. I’m there.

So Sunday we slept in and ate breakfast that Slim made. Classic eggs/sausage (from his brother’s plant) & bagels. Then R-squared went golfing while K. & I took a walk with the kids. She took a moment to sunbathe on a metal slide, while I tried out for the Olympic Gymnastics team. We ended up going home prematurely because of the humidity & heat and hung out in the a/c watching TLC home makeover shows (heaven!).

Twiggy & I left shortly afterwards for a smooth journey home. This time we really got to see the Iowan cornfields which, I know you will laugh, is really pretty! Your eye travels for miles with little blips of old white farmhouses on dirt roads. …And then I zonked out for 2 hours. Sorry Twigs. We can’t wait for our next trip up!

In which state were these guys born?


The answer is where we’re headed this weekend. We’re visiting a friend whom I talk to so much on the phone, we have nothing to say to each other in person. So we have to rely on our husbands to carry the conversation while we awkwardly look at each other for a few minutes. And then the wine is broken out… We can’t help it, she’s Italian and I’m a wanna-be.