Picnic Time!

We headed down to Wichita last Friday to attend one of R’s childhood friend’s wedding. The next turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous spring day. I’m fast becoming a spring fan and I won’t hide it. We decided to picnic it up, and R senior (my R does not have the same name as R senior, but just for clarification’s sake) took us to a lake in the absolute middle of nowhere.

The sky was blue, you could see for miles, and nature was to be breathed in by both our skin and our lungs. I closed my eyes, quickly reopened them, and then soaked it all in. We had been traveling in our car for the four weekends prior and so this was the first chance we had to stretch our legs in the open air.

This lake was interesting. It had peninsulas strung along the length of it, and so we parked & set up shop on one of them. If you look one way, you see the path to the middle of the lake. If you turned your head back towards the road, you were greeted with a horse eating in the sunlight. Peace and quiet.

We plopped down on a natural stone table, and laid out our spread. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and veggies. After driving for 5 hours in a tight girdle and sharing a few glasses of champagne with the wedding party, this is exactly what a girl needed.

After lunch, we spent the next couple hours exploring. R senior scouted the area for eagles. We’ve come to realize how similar he is to my dad. They both enjoy bird-watching, they both like to tout their steak-grilling abilities, and there was one other one. For the life of me, I can’t remember the third one. It was eerie. But maybe this is just the retiree’s checklist. Is there some sort of initiation you have to go through? 1) Find a robin and try to imitate it’s call 2) Grill a medium-rare steak seasoned only with worcestershire and seasoning salt. Now compliment yourself. 3) Do something else, but Carolyn can’t remember it.

After leaving the waterfall, we walked to a fork in the path. Of course we should go the way we haven’t been yet, I yelled. It was nice for a while.

Until the trail ended and we had no clear way to get back.

like mother like son, no face allowed.
We rested for a bit after our “excursion” and watched the boys play frisbee. J found a little tree that had Christmas decorations scattered around it.

All in all, a great day. By the way, we made steaks that night when we got home…. and yes, they were go-od!

Bipolar Scavenger Hunt

My friend, J, turned 29 this past weekend. So, in the spirit of her 20s, she threw a 1920s party/scavenger hunt. I was stoked. It’s like mixing Halloween with Easter and sprinkling a bit of Dance Party USA on top. R and I spent the week prior trying to find cheap accessories and ended up using a lot of stuff we already had, which always makes me happy.

We got ready over at N’s house. I’m not used to being boxed out in a bathroom, but I had to throw some ‘bows to see the mirror with these guys around. But I thought they both looked great! … with their pencil-thin mustaches and dapper suits. We were ready to go.

three amigos

I was the first to enter the party, and noticed that basically we and the host were the only people dressed up. For a split second, I thought it was a joke on us, just to see if we’d show up like this. Well, we embodied the reverse snobbery of looking at them like they were crazy. I mean, come on! Be silly!

So J had the good idea of splitting up the teams herself in order for people to get to know each other. Then, at the after-party, we wouldn’t cling to our normal groups and would mingle more. Genius. So she grabbed a microphone and announced the teams. N and I ended up being in the same car. I was both excited and scared. The last scavenger hunt we were in, I was the driver, and well.. let’s just say I shouldn’t drive in day-to-day life, let alone in a race competition. Poor J had started off in the front seat and eventually had to move to the back because she didn’t want to actually see the moments before she died.
None of the people in our group had a car, therefore we didn’t have a driver. J had to call her friend to come over and as soon as he opened the door, we shoved him back down the porch steps while introducing ourselves. Turns out he drove a two door, very small, very tight car. There were five of us. I closed my eyes and jumped in.

Now this is where we started riding the emotional waves. We had such high hopes in the beginning. If we had interpreted the clue correctly, we would have ended up only a few blocks away at a landscaped waterfall area. Nope, A (the driver) and I found ourselves running a quarter mile down an overgrown dirt path with zero light. Eventually we decided this wrong and turned back around. Where did we go next? Well, a car dealership. You know, they have landscaped corners. (???) The clue also mentioned that we would look for our next ORANGE clue at the destination. Well, what did we find? An orange truck! Under the truck was a fake tree inside a cardboard box. That must be it! We parked the car, grabbed the box and started tearing through it. Uh, no. There were car parts in it. And we could just start to hear the faint sound of police sirens trying to find 5 kids hijacking a car dealership. We were sad. But mostly because we realized that we should never be detectives.

happy, then sad.
Eventually, we found the right place and based on the two envelopes remaining, decided that two other teams hadn’t arrived yet.


We grabbed our bag and read the next clue which involved finding addresses of certain locations and using those numbers in a math equation. Okay, only I was sad about that. Hey — I’m a language major, leave me alone. We found out that one of our teammates was actually in law enforcement and used his connections (i.e. 9-1-1) to call dispatch for those addresses. We laughed so hard when the first thing that came out of his mouth was “Hey — it’s so & so. I’m off duty right now, but could you give me the address to Priscillas?” Is this where our tax money is going?? We were happy, though.

After a few more clues, we got stumped. It was a crossword puzzle that spelt out the next destination. One of the words we figured out (but only after I swore everyone was wrong — I hate when that happens) was ‘Daddy’. A few blocks down we saw a sign that had the word Daddy in it…and even though the second word didn’t match up, we still went in. No one could figure it out, so I bought a round of drinks. N was not happy with that. He wasn’t sad either. He was mad.

This was at the height of N’s anxiety. He was furious and when we finally figured out the second word (“Cakes”) he ripped everyone in that small little car a new one. You would’ve thought the market had just crashed or something.


This is a fast-forward (Amazing Race lingo, sorry) to the next day when I made N take a blood pressure test. He ended up being in the Hypertension category. I took mine and I was in Pre-Hypertension. I blamed it on N’s yelling the night before.

After heading to a couple more destinations, we arrived at a movie theatre and saw that, even though we thought we were last, there were still 2 more clues at the site…. indicating that more people were behind us. Happy!! We weren’t last!!

We were on a really big high when we showed up at the end. We walked in and saw…

everyone else from the party.

We were last, by about 45 minutes. There were just extra clues at every spot. Everyone laughed at us.


cheer up charlie
We ended the night hanging out a friend of J’s house. We intermittently checked on N to make sure he wasn’t going to do bodily harm on himself. R hung out in non-1920s chair most of the night. We had driven in from Arkansas and were pretty beat from the emotional roller coaster. I thought his outfit was cute though. He brought his bowler hat that is technically from 1931. No one noticed the faux pas.

I won best outfit though.


I guess ours could have been worse.

One of my co-workers is a justice of the peace and will randomly marry couples in our building. A young couple eloped in one of our classrooms today.

I didn’t think anything would have been worse than where R and I got hitched. When our original building’s roof blew off from a tornado a month before the date, we scrambled and found a little church in the same town.

They positioned their church as “from the 1800s”. We later found out that only the stones used to build the church were from the 1800s…and really, doesn’t that include just about every stone anywhere? Anyway, we attended a service to check it out and after it ended, what happened was straight out of “Children of the Corn”. The entire congregation turned around with their arms outstretched and walked zombie-like to greet us. It was terrifying.

I noticed a paint-by-number “Last Supper” and R spotted Jesus’ hologrammed rookie card. We were sold.

Autumn — The bait and switch

We made a quick jaunt to our home (someone please buy it, thanks) to do yard work. It’s a full time job in our area.

I love, love, love the trees.

..And the color.

Raking leaves… not so much. Although, we have found that doing it the old school way without a leave-sucker works much better for us.

We noticed at one point that leaves were coming down faster than we could rake them up. So, R tried to rake them mid-air.

This pic was taken literally 5 minutes after we bagged all of our piles.

Our neighbor’s yard made us feel better though.

White Haven Motor Lodge

Our new widows came in last Monday. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. However, when we arrived home around 9pm that night, the guys were still there working. None of the windows had curtains on them, so my only place of solace was the bathroom. That is, until one of the guys confessed that they broke glass all over our bed. R told him thanks, but we weren’t into that type of thing and that we’d just get a hotel.

Well. I took this as an opportunity to stay somewhere I’ve always wanted to go: The White Haven Motor Lodge. I pass by it every so often and it’s always intrigued me.

Don’t cringe at these photos, I was rushed. The hotel opened in the 50s & the guy at the front desk said that hardly anything has changed.

This is the front lobby. Don’t you feel like your grandma will enter the room at any moment with fresh-baked cookies?

And then, no room is complete without the all-time classic, Mediterranean with faux wood top dresser set. This includes a matching side table, desk, and larger round table.

At this point, my brain almost exploded trying to count the patterns in the room/bathroom. If we’re just talking wallpaper, I counted five.

But it was clean. And there were curtains. And there was no glass.

I was happy.

Prelude to a Friendship.. Part One

The Friendship Face-Off
Okay, so my closest friend, K. (see Iowa post) and I are approaching our ten year anniversary. I decided to dedicate a series of posts to our commemorative meeting sophmore year in Spanish class.. It’s eerie how people can be so close to meeting each other, but never do. Luckily, we talked about ourselves incessantly, and so quickly put together the many pieces leading up to that earth shattering moment. I demanded that K. add her side of the story as well, and have been very bossy in my new role as Editor-in-Chief.

Year: 1997, two years prior to Manolo’s Spanish IV class
Location: TPAC, Topeka KS
Show: Grease

K: My first ‘real’ experience with live theatre was going to a performance of Grease. I loved the movie when I was young —

Carrie: And hasn’t stopped doing the gun-at-the-hips dance move since. Sorry, keep going.
K: So I loved the movie and couldn’t wait to see the musical. My mom, sister, and I drove all the way to Topeka for the big show. We even got to eat at the Red Lobster.. which was a treat since Pinky’s was the only restaurant [a term used very loosely] in Courtland, KS. Nevermind that I ate my weight in shrimp scampi, threw up, and have never eaten there since. But I digress.

We arrived at the theatre, and oh my gosh how exciting it was! The lights, the performers, the music. I was in sensory overload. …And then, they announced that there would be —

Carrie: Wait!! I have to lead up to my experience. My mom won two tickets through her work to go see Grease and I was the lucky child who got to go. I didn’t know if it was because she knew I’d like it or because she felt guilty for forcing me to try out for ‘The Wizard of Oz” a few years prior. [Side note: The role of Dorothy had already been taken and so I was auditioning with 18 ‘little people’. Horrifying.]

K: Isn’t that when you sang “It’s a Grand Ole Flag”? You know… to show off your range?

Carrie: [Carrie rolls her eyes in an attempt to look like she’s annoyed that the detail was brought up, but is secretly glad that the focus is still on her.] Yeah, I didn’t have music. So I took my pre-fetus level piano book and pounded away at the keys while recording myself on a cassette tape. When I got to the audition, the lady did a slightly fancier version and I had no idea it was even the same song. Now I digress.

So we’re in the audience, whey they announce “There will be a Grease Dance-Off starting in a few minutes. Please come up to the stage if you’d like to participate.” A dance off?? Is this a dream?? So I turn to my mom and begin the list of reasons why she needs to do this with me, starting with “Remember when you never let me…” and ending with “..So you owe me this.” —

K:I so wanted to do it… but couldn’t convince anyone to go with me on stage, so I had to settle with watching all the contestants take the stage. That’s when I noticed them. A mother-daughter team…

Carrie: Me!

K: …dancing like they’ve never danced before. I kept my eyes on them, rooting for them all the way.

Carrie: Are you kidding, K? This has never been added to the story before. Don’t feel like you have to embellish for the blog’s sake. I know you were routing for the two 7 year olds. They were so quick on their feet.

K: The contestants slowly began dwindling as team by team were asked to leave the stage.

Carrie: Wait, wait. Now I know you’re either being sarcastic or can’t remember. My mom and I got 5th place. Out of five. It just wasn’t our night, guys. Our arms never really locked into place during the pretzel, and I stepped on her toe during the Cha-Cha.

K: Well, I do remember that you guys danced as if your lives depended on it. Maybe it did, for all I knew.

Carrie: What, like there was a bomb attached to one of us and we couldn’t dance below 55 mph?

K: Well, you do look like Sandra Bullock from the balcony.
… Stay tuned for part two of “Prelude to a Friendship”

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.

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.

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.

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?

*Beware* of the 60 year old double-hung, storm window!

Who knew windows could be so scary? But they’ve already run off the first window guy, who said (as soon as we let him in the house), “Are ALL your windows like those in the front?” “Oh, hello Window Guy #1. My name is Carolyn… we’re only trying to help put food on your family’s table. Nice to meet you.” After a quick look-about, he left saying he’d bring back an estimate. We haven’t heard from him since.

So tonight we met Window Guy #2 with a reserved hopefulness. I was afraid that as soon as he’d pull up he’d lean out the window, look my home up & down, and yell “NEXT!” Then my home would have to climb back onto the bus and pretend he wasn’t her type anyway. Oh stop it, we all know you watch that show when no one is looking.

Not only did Window Guy #2 not NEXT my home, he took her out to dinner and a movie. Thrice the experience we had with Window Guy #1. Now we can actually open them up and have a cross draft. Who ever thought this would be that exciting.

No Joke.

Tonight we saw The Dark Knight. I saw it only fitting to bring along our adopted joker hat. We treat him just as if he were one of our natural hats.. One day we’ll sit him down and tell the story of his delivery. How his father selflessly talked with Bacardi girls in tight white tanktops…saving him from who knows what kind of abusive life lay ahead. He probably would’ve been smashed tightly in a cardboard box (A BOX! — it makes me shudder) with other orphaned joker hats, longing for their time in the sun. No, we’ve upgraded him to a top-quality rubbermaid container in our damp & dark basement. What a lucky guy.

Anyway, so he was pretty excited and really took to a good cleaning. Trying to be as sparkly as possible. Look at him…what a ham. Just like his mother.

He was so good the entire day, waiting patiently by the door until it was time to leave.

He begged me to drive. And so because it was a special occasion, I let him steer as I put on makeup.

We waited in line together. He was the one that wanted to get there almost two hours early. It was never our idea…never.

Eventually he got hungry and followed R. up to the food counter. He ended up buying the 3 for $7.50 deal: popcorn, milkduds, & coke (they were out of diet coke).

R. & I thought the movie went well and were getting up to leave when we saw joker’s hat with his hands in the air. He was distraught & offended at the portrayal of his lineage. I think he’s going to start up a blog and boycott the movie. R. & I had fun though….so who cares! Back in the rubbermaid box –er, container– you go!

Lawn Mohawk

welcome. this is our backyard. we haven’t mowed in almost two weeks. rock, paper, scissoring for who’s to mow next wears us out and then neither of us does it. it doesn’t help that the yard is a mishmash of clover, weeds, grass, and what just might be mary jane. not too enticing to make pretty.

one area in particular we call the mohawk. it’s a straight line of grass that grows extremely fast. about 7 months ago, we had our sewer line replaced. (sorry for the two that stayed over that particular weekend when it collapsed. we tried to use as many candles as we could). well, bob hamilton had to come out and dig up a trench. no, literally. *the* bob hamilton, himself. (i played it cool around him, though.) they basically said that because of us, they are re-working how they give an estimate. apparently, digging through a solid concrete bomb shelter of a house was not an option on the checklist.

we eventually filled the trench with dirt but weren’t expecting the onslaught of greenery and let it be. i like to think we were just giving a patriotic nod to our region’s past… or at least to Brad Pitt.

while R. was mowing, he found a tennis ball that probably belongs to our next door neighbor’s dog. i don’t blame them for not attempting to retrieve it. who knows what was lurking in there. one time i was mowing and the next thing i knew there was gray and white fluff all around me. i thought i ran over a rabbit, but oh..nothing to worry about. it was only a rabbit’s nest. there were four little ones huddling in there.

this is a good shot of the dollar mower i found at a garage sale. it only sputters and breaks down a couple times a mow. and if you can barely make out the tall tree-looking thing growing up on the fence in the pic below. yeah, that’s a weed. i kind of like it.