Wednesday, September 28, 2011


One deliciously lazy early-1960's summer afternoon, I, Maria Von Trapp, was sitting on my back steps quietly singing "Edelweiss" in harmony with my imaginary husband, Captain Von Trapp when I heard Click-click-ding!  Click-click-ding!  Click-click-ding!  "Vas ist das?!" I asked my handsome Captain, "Could that be the sound of Nazi gunfire?  Should we hide behind tombstones?"  

Nope, it was one of the Clower boys next door shooting at something in the Bamboo Forest that covered the back third of his yard.  The Bamboo Forest was usually the set for all of our Tarzan and Jane reenactments.  Tarzan didn't have a rifle.  He attacked with big ol' elephants.  The sound of a rifle was a new development in our imaginary world of Ungawa. 

Clower Boy appeared from the "bush" on his side of the chain link fence smiling like Cheeta.  In his sweaty clutches was a brand new BB gun.  

Then, it happened.
I sat there on the steps screaming at the top of my lungs too afraid to walk because in all of the movies when someone gets shot their friends shout, "Don't move!  Lie Still!  We'll try to stop the bleeding!" After about 4 hours or maybe 10 minutes, my mom appeared at the back door.  "What happened?" she asked.  "I've been SHOT!  The Clower Boy SHOT ME!"  I fully expected her to do one of two things:  1)  yell "Don't move!  Lie Still!  I'll try to stop the bleeding while I send your extremely concerned little sister for help!" or, 2) catapult herself over the chain link fence in search of my perpetrator.  (I was secretly hoping for Option 2 because what wounded child doesn't enjoy a good "perp walk.")  Instead...
Apparently, the BB ricocheted off of my shinbone and buried itself deep into the soil beneath the thick green St. Augustine grass.  Lost forever.  All I had to show for my "drive by" shooting was a little nick in my shin.  A scratch really. Oh, I spent the rest of that summer on my belly searching the depths of our St. Augustine lawn with a magnifying glass.  To no avail.  I suppose the lawn mower ricocheted the BB towards some yawning stray cat.  I felt robbed of the public retribution that the Clower Boy had so easily avoided.  I felt robbed of my dramatic testimony in front the Tribunal of Concerned Parents.  I wanted to be promoted to Tarzan all summer while a penitent Boy followed all of my commands.  No such luck. No ungawa.

Fast Forward to the Mid-80's

For longer than I could remember I had a little bump on the left of my left knee.  It was very small.  I'd say about the size of a...BB.  In fact, I called it my BB.  Having found no BB tucked into the St. Augustine blades of my childhood, I figured that somehow the BB had penetrated my skin on that sultry 1960's summer afternoon miraculously leaving but a tiny scratch.  I suppose I should have been grateful to the BB for leaving me maim-free.

Every now and then, I would make my mom feel the bump just so I could say, "Yup.  That's my BB!"  I longed to hear her say "Oh, honey!  You weren't just being a histrionic Maria Von Trapp shot by German soldiers!  You really did get SHOT!" or "Oh, my!  This lump on your leg might be leg cancer!  Sweet Baby, let's get you to the doctor this very day!"  I was usually sorely disappointed by a passive "Hmm."

Enter my knight in shining armor - my Shweet Bahy-be, young husband, Alan.  During our first few years of marriage, he had become quite familiar with my BB.  He, too, was skeptical.  "So, it hit you in the shin and migrated to your knee?"  "BBs do that sometime, you know," I explained.

I finally mustered all of my courage and decided to end the mystery of the BB.  I made an appointment with a surgeon in Waco that Mom recommended.  I took off a day of school teaching, and drove from Dallas to Waco for the appointment.  Kathy went along with me for moral support. So she said.  I assumed that surgery would be scheduled, and I would need a substitute teacher for a week or two while I recuperated.

The doctor entered the room and got down to business.

"How long has this been here," he asked.

"As long as I can remember," I answered becoming increasingly nervous as I recalled my "Or, It's Cancer" theory.

"Hmm.  The only way we'll know what it is will be to take it out," he said like we were playing some kind of "Guess What?" game with a mystery item tucked into a black velvet bag.

"Can we schedule surgery for a Friday, so that I don't have to miss too much school?  I'm a 5th grade teacher, you know," I asked.

"Surgery?  Oh, you don't need surgery!  I'm going to take it out right here and now!" he smiled.

"Here?!  Now?!  What about anesthesia?!  What about the big bright operating room lights?!  What about my extremely LOW threshold for PAIN?!" I cried.

"Not to worry, I'll deaden the area," he said over his shoulder as he left the room.

In the corner sitting on a chair with an open magazine in her lap, Kathy was shaking with laughter.  She couldn't talk for laughing.  My glare made her laughter all the more uncontrollable.

A nurse entered the room with a cloth covered tray.  On top of the cloth was a large syringe along with other gory looking doctor tools.  Enter the doctor.  On went the latex gloves and a paper mask.  The nurse cleaned about a 2 foot section of my leg with Betadine before positioning it on the table with the BB side up.  Then, came the needle.

By now, Kathy was holding onto her chair to keep from falling on the floor with laughter.  More glares.  Tears ran down her very red face.  Her eyes opened wide when I cried out, "Yeow!!!!" as the doctor cut into my not quite deadened leg.  Her silent shaking laughter exploded into hoots.

"There!  It's out." the doctor asked as he began stitching up the gaping 1" hole left in my carefully shaved leg.

I bravely gasped, "I need to see it.  That BB has been with me since childhood."

"Oh, it's not a BB!  It's a little cyst," he explained as he showed me a tiny round thing that looked like a small pearl onion.

"I think that there's going to be a BB inside of it!  Can you find out if there's a BB inside?" I persisted.

"Sure can!" he said taking his scalpel to the cyst.  Sure enough.  It was ALL cyst.

"No BB?!  Oh, no!!  Is it...CANCER?"

"Doubt it.  But, I'll run it through the lab just to make sure.  Sometimes, little cysts can pop up for no reason at all.  Is there anything else I can do for you today?"

Large guffaw from the corner.

To this very day, Alan reminds me about my BB.  If I find any sort of irregularity on my skin, he quips, "Do you think it's the BB?!"

The Clower Boy did more than just shoot me that day so long ago.  He set me up.  He set me up real good.  I'm gunnin' for ya, Clower Boy.  Someday.  Somewhere.  When you least expect it...Click-click-rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat!  Followed by, "Lie still so you won't gush on the carpet."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Well, Kaboom! It Changes Colors!

We've had housekeepers off and on through the years, but now we have entered the season of College Tuition.  Right now, our housekeeper is me.  There is no chore chart directing little boy minions to scurry around with scrub buckets.  Pity.  Actually, while I would love to have someone pop in once a week to set my world straight and leave it smelling like Mr. Clean, I don't mind cleaning very occasionally.  I must admit, however, that my standards of clean dropped to an all time low when I became the mother of 3 boys.  In my opinion, Swiffers and Clorox Wet Wipes are to my kitchen as medical autoclaves are to operating rooms.  

I was in a dither earlier a couple of weeks ago with many things hanging over my cut-n-colored hair.  Responsibility was pulling me in many directions stretching me tight like a 3rd trimester pregnant belly.  My sweet husband listened to my fretting and then said one of the sweetest things he's ever said to me:  "I think that the bathrooms are clean enough already."  

I basked in his love for a minute before trudging into the laundry room to gather up my cleaning supplies for the battle ahead.  Ugh. Then, I opened the cabinet door and got all excited when I spied with my little eye a new cleaning product.  I simply adore new products - miracle toilet cleaners, new and improved dryer sheets, bound-and-determined-to-clean detergents.  There sitting on the shelf was my reason to smile - a new "toy!"

I don't know when I picked up this new Kaboom, but I would guess that it was on one of my "amblin'" shopping adventures.  The kind where I'm just kind of wandering through Walmart browsing through the seasonal stuff and wandering the grocery aisles looking at new brands of snack foods.  I know what caught my eye on this little honey:


Just think of the implications of those words!  They loudly sang "fun!" to the right side of my brain and calmly stated "practical" to my left hemisphere.  Just think!  A housewife simply sprays a coat of pretty blue foam onto a thick, filmy bathtub ring and then sits back on her heels reading Better Homes and Gardens while the foam does the work!  This in itself is not a new concept...the "we-work-hard-so-you-don't-have-toooooooooooo" business model has been out there for years.  Staring at the can of Kaboom I realized that I actually didn't BELIEVE my Scrubbing Bubble Buddies because there was no color-changing magic of "proof."  Add a simple color change-ability, and you can sell me every single Ron Popeil gadget on the planet!

I simply danced to the boys' bathroom carrying my bucket o' cleaners filled with Mr. Clean, Barkeeper's Friend, Comet, Tilex Soap Scum Remover, Lemon Pledge, Scrub Free with Oxy Foaming Action, Kaboom Spray Cleaner with the power of Oxyclean Stain Fighters, Sprayway Glass Cleaner, Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner with BLEACH, rubber gloves, a plastic Carino's iced tea go-cup for rinsing the tub, a Magic Eraser, and various sizes and colors of sponges (pink = potty) in one hand and the COLOR-CHANGING KABOOM FOAM-TASTIC WITH THE POWER OF OXI CLEAN STAIN FIGHTER in the other.

The boys' bathroom is a great place to test new cleaning products.  I always tell my newly purchased cleansing agents, "If you can make it there, you'll make it ANYWHERE."  I cleared off Head and Shoulders and Axe Body Wash for Men from the sides of the tub.  Then, I began to paint the tub with a thick coat of blue foam.  The experience was so awesome that I realized that I might soon be singing some special little song about the happiness of "blue foaming."  For the first foaming, I made do with this little ditty:
Humming to myself, I moved from the tub to the toilet to begin another foam masterpiece.  Every few seconds, I peered into the tub to see what Mr. Foam-tastic had goin' on.  Sure enough.  He was fading to white!  When the last tiny foam bubble declared that it had conquered its assigned bit of the bathtub ring, I grabbed my Carino's iced tea go-cup and got to rinsing.  Rinse-rinse-rinse.  Then, I ran an ungloved finger across the bathtub ring zone.  Hmm.  Not quite clean.

Smitten by the creativity involved in blue foaming, I decided to give the tub another coat of blue goodness.  Once the blue had faded, I used a wet sponge to wipe down the inside of the tub.  Success!!  Beautiful white, shiny cleanness!  Hurray!!

Moving from tubs to potties to sink with my graffiti-in-a-can, I began to wonder about what those little color-changing foam bubbles were doing to make it all happen.  I squinted my eyes and envisioned my own little robot can of foamy cleaning.
The Cleaning of the Bathrooms dreaded drudgery flew by.  I thought of how I need to send some cans of... Bryce and Reed before we go to visit them in Waco in October.  They will probably need 4 cans since they have 2 bathrooms that probably haven't been "color-changed" this semester.

Ahhhhh, housewifery!  The joys, the dreads, the exciting discoveries!  

Sunday, September 25, 2011

An Epiphany Regarding a Good Guffaw

In the shower just now, I had an epiphany.  I threw on my robe (FYI) and came running to my memory keeper to throw it out there.

Here it is:
The more you've laughed with a person, the easier it is to cry with him/her.

(This theory probably only applies to women and men who are totally [I just substituted "totally" for a word that I can't for the life of me spell right this minute.  In doing so, I have made my very own self LOL.   The word?  "Thur-row."  Don't spoil it by telling me how to spell it!!  I am basking in this place of LOL.] in touch with their feelings.)

There are only a handful of people on this planet that have, since college days, been able to send me to the Land of Wet Your Pants Laughing.  I LOVE to go there!   I dream of going there EVERY SINGLE DAY.  But, I make the trip less and less as the years go by.  The only exceptions would be people who send me there totally inadvertently.  See:  "Involuntary External Expression Disorder" (aka-inappropriate laughter)

Every member of my little family and numerous extended family members have rocketed me to Wet Your Pants Laughing quite generously through the years.  Thank you very much! I have some dear and precious friends who could get me there if we took the time to sit and visit with perhaps the eensy teensiest margarita.  Life gets busy.  I rarely imbibe.

[Got it!  "Thur-row" - t-h-o-r-o-u-g-h!  Show's over folks!]

I'll have to think about this carefully as I put on my makeup and blow dry my hair, but I do believe that the people who have been able to send me into paroxysms [It's so weird.  I spelled "paroxysm," but t-h-o-r-o-u-g-h...not so much] of laughter (this does NOT include strangers who fall off ladders with the grace of a goat) are the people with whom I have been able to "go there" with.  I mean "go there" as in bare my soul.  Spill my guts.  Show my ugly cry.

Hmmm.  Why is that?  Let me see...  Mayhaps it's because that place of deep laughter doubles as a place of deep understanding of things that are important.  A meeting of the minds if you will.  The wink of Deep-Rooted Perception.  Kind of like the look parents exchange when they hear their kids scream, "Santa Claus came!!!"  The look that communicates years of shared experience.

Anyhoo.  I love having friends who allow me to "go there."  But, only if they will totally "go there" with me.  Hardy.  Har.  Har.  

Come my friend!  Let's dance in the meadow, feast on a fall picnic and share a really good breathless guffaw.

Writer's Note:  (sounds ominous...)  The very title of this blog is based on the gifts and talents of my sister, Kathy.  She could NAIL the funny in the midst of angst.  The day after I had a Fallopian [t-h-o-r-o-u-g-h] tube removed due to a very painful ectopic pregnancy, she came into my hospital room bearing a CASE of Oreos.  As little girls, Oreos came with skinned knees and broken hearts.  That case of here-little-precious-this-will-make-it-all-better mad me laugh so hard I had to make her leave the room for a while.  The laughter KILLED my incision.  And, raised my spirits.

Oops!  Almost forgot!  Banana Bike.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Finding The Banana Funny's Top 5 Bike List

As a blogger, I always wonder which posts will resonate with da peepo.  It's interesting for me to look over my "stats" to see which blogs have the longest legs.

Here are my all time top 5 blogs according to their number of pageviews:

#5  Moving Miss Helen (07-25-10)
      Don't ask me...I have no idea.
      I'm guessing that people can relate to losing their underwear in public.  Recurring
      nightmare for some?
#3  Birthing Potential (11-04-10)
      I have to admit.  This particular story always brings a tear to my eye.  And not
      because I feel convicted to let more babies come "out of my tummy."
#2  Nekked Hot Tubbing  (02-07-11)
      I think that the popularity of this post is self-explanatory.

Coming in on top for NO APPARENT REASON!
#1 BANANA BIKE!  (03-06-11)  
      Go figure.

There are some interesting google searches that bring readers my way.  Below are but some of the phrases googled:
  • "clever pinterest  board names"
  • "17 day diet cleansing vegetables list"  (along with numerous variations of 17 day diet queries)
  • "kenner gooney bird"
  • "funny pink spin bike"  (I can't figure it out either.)
  • "white khakis salmon shirt frat"  (You tell me.)
  • "if it is to be it is up to he"
  • "funny cupcakes art"
  • "funny I pledge allegiance"
  • "big black beast gets bonket"  (Creepy.)
The numero uno search phrase that lures unsuspecting googlers to this site:

Therefore, I will be including the words "banana bike" in every future post.  I actually enjoy typing the words "banana bike."

I'd be amiss if I didn't say that no one lands here by weird kinds of goggle searches!
Here's a little sumthin-sumthin for all of you
banana bike enthusiasts.  My sister, Calamity Kathy, is
totally trying to steal the show from my banana bike.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pick-Up-Your-Knees-and-Point-Your-Toes- Ah-Left!

Ahh, the halcyon days of being a member of Miss Brenda's drill team.  For the one year I was a Robinson Rockette at Robinson High School, she took me on the ride of a lifetime.  Brenda Boiles, our director, was bigger than life - from her engaging and commanding personality to her big brown false eyelashes to her gargantuan brown hair with bulbous bangs.  She wore a thick coating of Merle Norman makeup base and glossy pale pink lipstick.  I was totally infatuated with her and completely intimidated by her.

She waltzed into Robinson, Texas during the Spring of 1971 to begin a drill team at our tiny, somewhat rural high school.  An assembly was held for 8th-11th graders during which she explained to us what a drill team was.  She had been a Kilgore Rangerette.  Her big smile and dramatic tales of high kick lines spun through my mousy dishwater blonde hair past my clanky braced teeth and into my soul.  The part of my soul that dreamed of one day becoming Miss Panola County.

She kind of had this effect on the masses.

She said magic words like "beautiful blue and white uniforms" and "half time performances."  My little insecure pimpled 8th grade self melted into a puddle of wannabe.  I wanted to be "that."  I wanted to be admired by her.  I wanted to be loved by her.  I wanted to be her. 
Me at 8th Grade Graduation
Hair by Mom's Beautician (note cascading Baby's Breath in back)
Dress by Mom who stayed up late on many nights to toil over the intricate shirring on the bodice.
Make up by Slicker and Clearasil (double duty...)
White carnation corsage - totally from my Mom.
(The clanky braces came that summer.)
Miss Brenda scheduled tryouts that were to last one week.  On Monday through Thursday, she spent about 2 hours after school teaching us a basic routine to this 5th Dimension song:

Save the people!  Save the children!  Save the drill team!

I felt like a pro because I had learned terms like "step-dig" and "3-step turn" in my modern dance classes in elementary school.  I can hear her voice to this day.  "Ah-5-6-7-8!"  "Ah-step-ah-dig-ah-step-ah-dig!"  "Three-step-turn-DIG!"  "Now, WITH THE MUSIC!"  She was both powerful and empowering.  Her charisma thumped like a big base drum sending vibrations up our spines.  

With sweaty palms and churning intestines, we sat on the bleachers in the gym that Friday afternoon waiting to be called to the floor for our tryout.  Miss Brenda, as she preferred us to call her, pinned numbered pieces of paper to our shirts.  Yikes!  A number?!  I've been reduced to a number?!  Will she forget all my cuteness and cooperation from Monday through Friday?!  Does my hair look the same?!  Will she know it's ME?!

Called to the floor, I stood in the line of 5-6 girls who would be performing the routine that we had committed to memory over the week hoping to heck that we didn't totally forget every step-dig and step-ball-change we'd learned.  I can still feel the tension and nerves that pulsed through my 4'11" frame.

Once all of the girls had been put through their paces, Miss Brenda disappeared into the girls' locker room to choose the lucky 30 girls who were to become the Robinson Rockettes.  The clock ticked at the speed of molasses dripping off of a piece of cold cornbread.  Then, with lightening speed, Miss Brenda dashed out of the locker room with a big piece of rolled up white bulletin board paper and ran up the stairs to the second level weight room that over looked the gym floor.  She struggled with a roll of masking tape until she had firmly affixed her banner to the railing.  With a dramatic unfurling, down came the sacred scroll of lucky numbers.  Before any of us had a chance to laugh or cry, out the door she flew to avoid heartbroken teenagers or angry moms.

It was there!  My number was there!!  I felt like I had just been crowned Miss Panola County.  Screams, hugs, shrugs, and tears permeated the air.  I WAS IN!  She wanted me!  She saw my amazing dance potential!  She hadn't figured out that I couldn't do the splits!  Glow-ree!  I was a Robinson Rockette, thank you very much!

That summer the hard work set in as Miss Brenda taught us to be a drill team with 4 hour morning practices in the un-airconditioned gym.  We learned to march in place and in lines to "On Wisconsin" blaring from Miss Brenda's record player.  "Pick-up-your-knees-and-point-your-toes-ah-left-left-left-right-left!"  We learned to strut.  We learned how to sit in columns in the bleachers with our knees together and our ankles crossed.  We learned the rules of drill team.  And, if we had worked really hard, sometimes she would tell us tales of her Kilgore Rangerette Days with Miss Gussie Nell Davis.  "If you think that OUR practices are tough, you should see Miss Davis' practices!"

Drill Team Rules According to Miss Brenda
  1. Never, ever chew gum in public no matter how bad your breath gets.
  2. Always, always stand with good posture with your stomach sucked in.
  3. Behave like a drill team girl at all times - morning, noon, and night - off campus and on.
  4. No inappropriate, garish behavior in the football stands - only feminine cheering and polite hand-clapping were accepted.
  5. Never take ANYTHING into the football stands with you - no coat, no purse, no Coke, no giant dill pickle, no Frito pie, no nuttin'.
  6. Never stretch prior to a performance or run through a routine where the crowd can see you - that's what the area under the bleachers was for.
  7. "Yes, Miss Brenda" and "No, Miss Brenda" were the proper ways to answer her.
  8. Always touch up your boots or white tennie shoes (for gym floors) with white shoe polish before a performance.
  9. A drill team girl NEVER runs in uniform.  She struts.
  10. Beauty knows no pain, so, smile and buck up.
Red lipstick and false eyelashes were "part of the uniform."  And, if a girl could afford it, a "fall" covering up short hair was appreciated.  Better yet if we all had shoulder length hair of the same color, texture and curl.  There was no "droppin' it like it's hot" or booty shakin'.  We gently "bounced" off of our left heels while standing in the classic drill team version of "3rd position."

Brenda Boiles is on my short list of life-changing people.  She was a finishing school in high heels.  Our 3rd performance as a brand-new drill team was...are you ready for the Cotton Bowl.  We did a pre-game performance for the Dallas Cowboys in the cold, pouring rain. (see rule #10)  She convinced us that we were amazing buds of womanhood with the world at our fingertips.  And, I fully believed her.  Thank you, Miss Brenda.  You were in my path for such a time as that.

Miss Brenda helping a Rockette get her Little Red-Red piled on
before our pre-game performance in the Cotton Bowl
(photo from Robinson's "Galaxy" year book)

Post Script:  During my sophomore year at Baylor, Miss Brenda was offered the job of establishing a Baylor drill team.  The former Rockettes that were Baylor students at the time were elated.  Tryouts were held.  Practice had begun.  Then, one day, Miss Brenda didn't come to practice.  We were told that she wasn't going to be able to continue as our leader.  Turns out she had cancer.  She passed away within the year at the age of 36-ish.  The "Honeybears" kind of fizzled after that.  I simply cannot wait to see her in heaven!  "Pick-up-your-knees-and-point-your-toes-ah-left-left-left-right-left!"

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Warm Pants Expedition

I woke up this morning thinking of my sister, Kathy.  Not woe-is-me thoughts.  I was thinking about the Warm Pants Expedition that Mom and I embarked upon last week.  Or the week before.  My memory...ugh.

Mom had called me about a week before the Expedition to announce that she needed to go shopping for "warm pants."  It was a balmy 98 degrees here in the Hub City with no cool breezes in sight.  Oh, wait...I remember!  She wanted to go on a Warm Pants Expedition on Labor Day Weekend when she expected all of the warm pants to be on sale.  I was kind of thinking that all of the cool shorts would be on sale.  She specifically remembered that one year she was able to find great deals on warm pants at a huge Labor Day sale.  She has an uncanny memory for where and when she purchased each item in her wardrobe - dresses, tops, pants, shoes, bracelets, earrings, necklaces, panty hose - as well as how much they would have cost if she hadn't gotten them on sale for ________ (names the exact price).

We go.  On Labor Day.  Upon entering Talbots, she informed a sales associate (a 20-something GUY) that she needed warm pants.  I must explain this sudden, dire need.  My mother has a closet FULL of clothes.  Her size 6 collection was left behind when we moved her from Waco because "unless I get real sick I won't ever be that small again."  The size 8's made the trip because she might get a little sick and need them.  She had slowly gathered some 10's as she faced the reality that her "good health" was causing her waistline to expand.  After a year of good livin' at Raider Ranch with its "free" hor dourves during the Friday night cocktail hour and most excellent Sock-it-to-Me cake, she was in need of size 12 warm pants.

"What kind of warm pants are you looking for?  Casual?  Dressy?  Wool?  Corduroy?" Sales Dude enthusiastically asked.  I smiled like the Cheshire cat.  He had no idea about the bottle of worms that just walked into his sales path.

"Can you show me what you have in a size 10?" Mom asked smiling.

Off he went to gather up pants with me trailing behind telling him to make that size 12's.  After trying on approximately 10 pairs of warm pants in size 12 and a couple in size 14, Mom stood in a pile of discards in her dressing room asking about the color choices in the size 12 corduroy jeans that had won the elimination challenge.  She settled on 2 pairs:  black and chocolate.  

"What about cute tops on sale?" she asked.

"What do you mean 'cute tops'?" I questioned her question.

"Oh, something that would look cute with these warm pants..." she sighed.

Exchanging half-hearted smiles, Sales Dude and I went foraging for warm tops to match the warm pants.  At one point, I passed him in the dressing room area as he was wagging an eggplant long-sleeved "wrinkle resistant" blouse to Mom's room.  "She saw this blouse hanging on another lady's dressing room door and thought she'd like to try it on," he explained.  It seemed that the Meems had fully reeled Sales Dude in.

-passage of time-

We leave the store with 2 pairs of warm pants, 2 cute summer weight sweaters, and a beige shell.  Sure enough, everything in the store was 25% off for Labor Day.  Feeling like I had just fed the 5000, I helped Mom up into the Suburban.

Wait for it...wait for it...wait for it...

"Do we have time to go to Chico's?"


The phone rang about 15 minutes after we walked in the door from our trip to New Orleans.

"Did you have a good time?" asked a sweet, familiar voice.

I told her about some of the great food we ate and about how the amazing smell of the raw brown sugar floated from the sugar mill we passed on our river boat excursion.

After she had asked the appropriate amount of questions to show interest in our trip she asked, "When can we go to the alterations place to get my warm pants hemmed?!"


This morning I woke up thinking of Kathy. 

I raised my eyes to the ceiling and said, "OK, Geekus.  Your turn!"  

Monday, September 19, 2011

Who Dat Go To Duh Big Easy?

Last week I got to tag along with Alan on a business trip to the Big Easy.  It was our first time to visit fair NOLA, and we went with our bibs tied tightly around our necks ready to eat our way through the Crescent City.


Our Hotel
We loved the Soniat House, a tiny boutique hotel
in the French Quarter about 3 blocks from Jackson Square. 
Each morning, a light breakfast of piping hot homemade biscuits and strawberry jam
would be brought up to our room or to the terrace by our room to the courtyard.
The stairs that lead up to our hall...
That led to our room - door on the left - which opened with a KEY.

The Larapin' Good Food
Shrimp Creole at Muriel's
Baked Alaska at Antoines
While I was sorely disappointed that the waitstaff of Cafe du Monde
is composed of "non-locals," the beignets and Classic Coke
(I'm a coffee hata) did not disappoint.  I just wanted my breakfast
accompanied by some "How you all doin' this mawnin'?"
Just about the best thing I put ever put in my mouth - the Central Grocery Muffuletta.
I'm salivating just looking at the picture.
Pee-can Pie at Mr. B's - Alan picked up a carry out order two nights later.
We HAD to have another piece.
Every single morsel we ate at the Upperline Restaurant.  The owner, JoAnn greeted
us at the door like we were her long lost best friends.  I'm still thinking about the
Fried Green Tomato with Shrimp Remoulade.  That's what I'm talkin' about!

The Colorful People
At 4:00 in the afternoon, I came upon this little "parade " of about 14 kilts.
Drinking beer.  While pulling a beer wagon.
I would have loved to pass an afternoon away in the shade listening
to Duct Taped Tuba Man doling out some Dixie Land.
My new friend, Willow, who used to ride the bus overnight on weekends to Austin
in the summers of his teen years to play street music on 6th Street.

So, that's a sampling of my experience in NOLA.  I saw with my own eyes the resilience of the people in the aftermath of Katrina.  The 9th Ward with its new construction and abandoned homes with their spray-painted first responder codes showed me how far they've come and how much there is left to be done.

There is so much more to explore.  I can't wait to go back.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Elevator Girl

I am TERRIFIED of HEIGHTS.  When I'm up on top of anything taller than a 6 foot ladder, I feel a vaporous cloud of Highness surrounding me like an evil entity plotting to suck me off of the high place and hurl me to the concrete or grass or plush carpet below. BE-YA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!  It's up there.  Waiting.  For me.  Highnesssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss. 

My men, on the other hand, celebrate the Highness of whatever lies before them be it a mountain top, a monument or a skyscraper.  My Bryce loves to stand at the edge of Highness in awe of its power and glory.  My beloved men see a breathtaking view.  I see certain and imminent death involving a sustained echoing scream.  If they've heard it once, they have heard it 173 times, "BOYS!  Get back from the edge!  YOU'RE MAKING ME NERVOUS!"  If they have mimicked my warning once, they have mimicked it 3042 times in nasal falsetto voices, "Get back from the edge, Bryce!  YOU'RE MAKING ME NERVOUS!"  Hardy-har-har!

I drug my feet into the lobby of the building that day in July.  I had thoroughly voiced my fears only to be met with exasperated retorts of "Mo-om!  You're NOT going to fall off of the thing!" and "I'm pretty sure there's a railing around the observation deck.  Gee-aww!"  Railing shmailing.  Goaded by my men to participate in the  planned activity for that day of our vacation, I stepped one foot and then the other into that elevator.  I could hear my heartbeat pounding my ears.  thunka-thunka-thunka-thunka-thunka-thunka-thunka

Unlike most elevators, this one had an elevator operator - Elevator Girl.  This elevator was far too fine and special to entrust up and down button pushing to your average Joe-off-the-street.  It required a fine and special vest and a name badge.  I don't remember Elevator Girl's face.  I just remember that she was petite with jet black hair and perhaps some piercings - rather course.  She was in her late teens or early 20's.  If I had to guess, I'd say that her name was Khloe-with-a-K.   

As we began our rapid climb, I studied her trying to figure out what brought Khloe-with-a-K to this place.  What force of nature pushed her into this particular building to fill out an Elevator Girl application knowing full well that she was asking for minimum wage shifts of UP-down-UP-
down-UP-down-UP-down-UP-down-UP-down-UP-down-UP-down-UP.  down.  Did she quietly sing a chorus?  "I really need this job!  Please, God, I NEED this job!  I REAL-LY NEEED THIIIIS JOB!"

Elevator Girl was actually a wee bit friendlier than she looked.  She began to tell us facts about the speed of the elevator in terms of feet per second. Ears popped. There were giddy "Dangs!" and "Wows!" and chuckles.  It's not like she was cracking jokes or anything.  Something she said just struck me funny. In the midst of my swelling angst, she made me smile.  

I was happy to see that the elevator doors opened into a gift shop area on the 107th floor.  Logic told me that I would not be stepping directly out onto some precipice like a gargoyle.  Fear begged to differ.  Gift Shop Counter Lady was alive and well.  She wasn't holding on to counter for dear life.  She was counting out change as calmly as a Counter Girl on the first floor of a department store.

"Mo-om, you HAVE to come out here!  This is going to be sooo cool!" the goading continued.  "Mo-om, you can hold my hand.  You're NOT going to fall off of this building."  I wanted to be That Mo-om.  The adventurous Boy Mo-om.  I decided to pretend.  The doors opened.  The wind caught my breath.  I stepped out.

Clinging to the wall of the observation deck like a wet stray cat, I felt nauseous just watching my men stand with their noses poking just past the so-called protective barrier.  Seriously, Protective Barrier?  Do you really think that little you can ward off Highness?  "Don't get so close to the edge!  YOU'RE MAKING ME NERVOUS!"  Eye rolls.  My little parrots squawked, "YOU'RE MAKING ME NERVOUS!  YOU'RE MAKING ME NERVOUS!  BERAWK!"  

Alan gouged the knife of fear in a bit deeper and twisted it grinning.  "They say that these buildings sway a couple of inches either way to keep the wind from blowing 'em over.  Can you feel the swaying?!"  Man laughter.  Oh, I could feel it swaying.  It swayed like the tip of a fly fish rod taunting a salmon in a mountain stream.  Highness.  Swaying.  Back to the gift shop.  Longing for my new best friend, Elevator Girl.

In case you're wondering, I lived another to see another day.  Highness did not win out on July 20, 2001.  Elevator Girl safely delivered me back to solid ground.  I wanted to kneel down and kiss the hot summer pavement and sing praises to God.  I'm alive!  I'm alive!  I must be alive, because I am standing here on solid ground!


Seven and a half weeks later - summer over - boys at school - peaceful house - at 9:00AM, I was in my kitchen loading the dishwasher with one hand while holding the phone to my ear with the other hand.  Right in the middle of a cozy morning chat with my neighbor, Marianne, it happened.  Today Show's Matt and Katie took us there.  Marianne and I hurriedly ended our chatter.  I stood frozen in front of my sink trying to process what I was seeing.

Then, I thought of her.  Elevator Girl.  Khloe-with-a-K.  Dear, precious, young, name-tagged, Elevator Girl of the Special Vest.  Please, God in Heaven.  Keep her safe.

I've kept these tucked away for 10 years.  My great grandchildren will unearth them from my rubble.


Meems had a very special visitor this weekend.  Our friend, Laura Ard, flew down from DC to spend time with her.  Laura lived next door t...