I think it was rigged.

Recently, my brother asked me how R and I like Arkansas. Well. We love it.

I literally stepped foot into the state for the first time, ummm, about 2 weeks before we moved there. We all had our barefoot and pregnant jokes, I was expecting to relive Deliverance, and R was afraid he’d lose his teeth. But oh how wrong we were.

The in-laws and I had gone on a Buffalo River canoeing trip. This was when I went on a tour of R’s family homestead, which you can read about that here and when we climbed up on the tower which you can read here. On the way to Gilbert, Arkansas, I rolled down the window, stared at the countryside and just longed to be near it. It was instant love.

Not to mention these little drives under canopies of trees. I mean, can’t you just picture me with a carpet bag riding in a buggy?

So we dumped off our luggage and went into town (I use that word loosely — there is a general store and cafe. That’s it. Awesome. No, I mean really, I thought it was awesome. No sarcasm.)

J, R’s mom, and I were surrounded by two generations of brothers. Scary.

We jumped into our canoes and took off. This was another instance in which R & I barely escaped a canoeing incident without a divorce. I think I was so overwhelmed by the beauty that peace was closer at hand.

We stopped midway down to take a dip in the icy water. N was the sole brave one to wade all the way in. So we had the brilliant idea of skipping rocks near his head for him to goalie. Don’t ask. Maybe it’s an Arkansas thing.

Later that evening we came home, where I made a pasta dish using cilantro instead of parsley. I cannot explain what I was thinking. For some reason I had it in my head that cilantro was what we needed. I’ve got a long way to go in the kitchen.

We played poker and clowned around on the beams.

It was such a nice weekend and completely sold me on what would be my new home.

I’m still sold.


We are moving to a town closer to R’s job. I’ve found a job at the local elementary school which allows me to use my Spanish degree as well as enjoy summers off. Can’t beat it.

That being said, we are moving this weekend into a itty-bitty apartment so I may be off-line for awhile. The new place is almost half of what we currently are living in. The good thing is that it’s forcing us to reduce our material possessions (garage sale!) and get creative with storage solutions. One idea that we are going forward with is the sleeping arrangement. Our queen bed will be sold and do you know what that leaves us with? A twin. My mom doesn’t think it can be done, but I want to try. At the very least it will be a good catalyst to exercise frequently, just so I can fit on it. Is this crazy? I think our mindset is that in order to achieve our goals for the next few years, we need to be uncomfortable (square footage, less household items — although this may make us more comfortable, sharing one car, sleeping in a twin bed without killing each other after the first week.) We’ll see how it goes. 
In the meantime, check out this great website for organizing and decorating small places. Some people are so clever. 

Paper pool

**pre-recorded post**

Our furniture arrived a few days before NYE. We had hosted two garage sales at our home prior to moving. But from the looks of this picture, it didn’t help. Not only that, we did not expect the onslaught of packaging material in the boxes. Okay, don’t get me wrong. I felt like royalty not having to load and unload or things. But when we moved ourselves, we just threw things into boxes and hoped that if we hit a bump, it fell onto a pillow somewhere in the back. So as far as unpacking goes, we really only had the boxes to deal with. Not the packaging. We tried to make the best of it though and jumped in them like they were leaves. R tried to do the backstroke through them, but it didn’t work. I tried the breast stroke and it went okay. Needless to say, everything is now pretty much put away, we managed to take a couple trips to Salvation Army and our road to simplicity is getting nearer and nearer.

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.

No Seriously, Cue it.

S and me before our night of toe-tappin.
Notice the strained smile on my face. Stress.
Music is a soul’s medicine, isn’t it. It can penetrate any armor you’ve put up around yourself. Mine, this week, has been the “wound so tight she’s going to snap” shield. R has been tip-toeing around me as I make list after list of what we need to do to the house before putting it on the market. Phone calls with friends have been short. The foam egg mattress we have on our bed has not helped me have a good night’s rest.

Wound tight.

..and then like a dam breaking, a night listening to music at the Nelson Art Museum helped me break free of my mummified state of stress. it massaged my temples and shoulders more than a masseuse ever could. just what the doctor ordered. I laughed and smiled and forgot all about the lists.

Not only was the act of listening to music helpful. To me, more importantly, it was the type of music. I’ve finally admitted to myself that I am a die hard junkie on Bluegrass. Old Country. I came into that genre late, listening to K’s burned cds my third year in college. The tunes caught my ear, and I never asked her to turn them off. But I also never instigated playing them. Then one night in a seedy dark bar, I caught a showing of a bluegrass band, The Wilders. It was in a room painted all black, and there was a crowd of maybe 75 people. The music started and the rest was history. I was a fan. Then for Christmas, my parents-in-law gave me a record player. I bought some records on eBay..a few of which were old country: Hank Williams Jr, Johnny Cash, early Dolly Parton. I also bought others, but those three were the ones I came back to night after night. These classically trained musicians of The Wilders, one of which meant to become an opera singer, became my doorway drug into this new world.

And the layers of the instruments. If anyone remembers the part in Amadeus, when Salieri describes his first encounter listening to Mozart’s music.

“On the page it looked like nothing. The beginning simple, almost comic. Just a pulse – bassoons and basset horns – like a rusty squeezebox. Then suddenly – high above it – an oboe, a single note, hanging there unwavering, till a clarinet took over and sweetened it into a phrase of such delight.”

I focus on the layers of the bluegrass bands. I try to listen to each instrument separately..and then as a whole. The sum truly is greater than the parts, although the parts are pretty sensational. Plus, Betse can kick some fiddle ass.

I don’t think my mom’s Motown/Rock/Broadway influence will ever leave me. But I can’t deny the new love in my life. Thanks for cheering me up, bluegrass.

Here are some songs from the Wilder’s website. Enjoy.
Two — Betse kicks it!


Riding off…

..into the Arkansas sunset?

As some of you may already know, R. accepted a position in NW Arkansas. Believe it or not, one of my first reactions was: “Well, at least my blog title will fit.” I brainstormed with friends tonight over Dairy Queen & wine. We decided to create “Banjo Hero”. A knock off of ‘Guitar Hero’ for my friends in the back country. S. had the great idea of “Harp Hero” and then proceeded to intensely play an imaginary harp.

And then reality hit. Selling the house, finding a home, leaving my newfound job that I really enjoy, and finding a new job. We’ve decided to rent for awhile and can I do a stage whisper and say how much I am looking forward to that? No mowing, no repairs…just write a check and you’re done. There is so much beauty in that prospect.

Some more positive residue comes in the form of craigslist. I’m going to start my furniture replacement plan as soon as possible. Most of our current stuff/crap will be sold. And more will be bought at antique stores. I’ll finally get the art deco waterfall vanity I’ve been eyeing.

Also, I always enjoy going to Wichita and staying with R’s parents. Waking up and leisurely having breakfast. Now, when we make trips back here, we’ll have to do the same with my parents. It makes visits all the more cozy and special.

So anyway, wish us luck on our voyage into the backhills of Arkansas. I’ll make sure to post pics frequently so you can keep track of my remaining teeth. I’m afraid as soon as I pass the border they’ll all fall out and my shoes will fly off my feet permanently. Of course, you know I’m kidding. It’s supposed to be a beautiful area and I’m excited for the new adventures we’ll experience. No, that wasn’t a robot talking. I’m not a stepford wife.