Saturday, June 30, 2012

As If The Heat, The Dust, And The Politics Weren't Bad Enough

A few months ago when we were home, we had something happen to the truck which remained a mystery until tonight.

One morning, Ed went out to the truck and noticed that the hub seal caps on our steer tires (which are the two front tires of the truck) had been popped off and were lying in the dirt next to each tire.

His first thought was, sabotage. "Someone messed with my truck." he said.

"What do you mean?" I said.

"When I came out this morning, the hub seals were laying in the dirt. They were pried off the wheels. Must have been some kids." he said.

"Why would kids be messing with your truck? And if they did do it, why would they leave them right next to the wheels on the ground instead of taking them?" I said. We've had people walk through our yard as a shortcut, so it wasn't unreasonable. Unlikely, but not unreasonable.

"I don't know. Maybe they don't like that we park here." he said.

"Nah, that's not it." I said, still wondering how it was possible that they were neatly off the wheels, lying in the dirt. We never did figure it out.

Fast forward to this trip home. We parked the truck in a different spot in our driveway because
our friends were coming by to visit and we needed to be able to fit their truck in the driveway also - two semi trucks, snug as a bug in a rug.

The next morning when Ed got up, he noticed that one of the hub seal caps was off the truck again. Just one, but there it was, lying on the ground. Once again, Ed launched into his theory about how someone was "screwing with" him and his truck. Except now the reason was because there were two trucks were in the driveway. A neighbor must be pissed. Or some kid came through and decided it would be funny.

I didn't buy any of the scenarios he was coming up with. "It must be an animal." I said.

"Really? An animal?? So he just came up with his little paws and pried the hub seal off?" Ed said.

"Yeah. Somehow, an animal must be doing it; maybe he's attracted to the sweet oil smell or taste or something. What else could it be? It's not like people are sneaking around our backyard in the dark just to screw with your truck." I said. We went to bed, perplexed.

The next morning when we got up, both hub seals were off the tires and lying on the ground. Something was definitely up. I told Ed to check the video to see what it was. He immediately took a look at the footage from that evening. We went to bed pretty late, and had to get up at five to see our friends off, so there wasn't too much he had to look through.

Then, at 2:32 am local time (the clock in the video is set on Central Time, which is what we use in the truck), we discovered who the culprit was. Watch very closely...

Did you see how he gnawed at the hub seal cap until it popped off? Then he sniffed and licked? Javelinas! The saboteurs were javelinas. Just like I said. And as usual, they travel in packs. See the group of them in the background? They were probably egging him on. What a bunch of marauding hooligans!!

Once our friends found out that dangerous wild boars roamed the property - in addition to a bobcat, a mountain lion, rattlesnakes, and bees, they weren't too keen on going outside. Imagine what they're going to think when they find out our wild animals are also vandals!

Add these varmints to the dust, the brutal heat, and the hateful politics, and it makes you wonder why anyone even inhabits this godforsaken place.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
My Office Window
2010: All The Live-Long Day
2009: What Every Child Leaves Behind
2008: What Happened To Being Human?
2007: I’ve Been Everywhere, Man
2006: Gulf Shore Toe Magnets
2005: Sorry, no post on this day.

Friday, June 29, 2012

I'll Have To Pry It From Her Dead, Cold Fingers

I wasn't home 24 hours before my mother needed an iPhone tutorial. According to her, the icons on her phone had "moved".

I said, "Mom, the icons don't just move on their own. Were the kids playing with your phone?"

"Noooo." she said. Of course I didn't believe her.

My nephews greet her these days with a kiss and a, "Hi-Nana-can-I-see-your-iPhone-and-can-I-download-the-new-Plants-Vs-Zombies-game?" My mother has so many kids games on her phone, you'd think she was a teenage boy. I don't know why my nephews don't just all have their own phones by now.
These iPhone 4 deals that are being offered nowadays are so competitive, my brother can buy all three kids their own phone and not have to worry about them whining that they want mp3 players or handheld video games. - with the iPhone, they're already there! And, when they leave the house, my brother will be able to track them with GPS.

I'm not sure what the right age is for a kid to get their own cell phones, but it seems like a lot of kids today have them. On one hand, I can see where they might be necessary; on the other hand, I often wonder who eight-year-olds are talking to? Sometimes, I even wonder who seventy-year olds are talking to.

Which brings me back to my mother. With the frequent tutorials, and the hours and hours of "phone support" I give her, I have to say she's coming along quite nicely. She's essentially got the basics down, she's a mad texter (although she sometimes sends texts to the wrong recipient - which can really be disastrous), and she's even had reason to use the translate app. What she was translating, I have no idea.

I insisted on buying her the iPhone when I realized that Verizon was going to discontinue the unlimited data plans. I knew it would take some getting used to, but my reasoning was that she'd eventually be going to a smart phone anyway (at some point, we'll have no choice) so why not get her in on the unlimited deal? I knew it was going to be ten trillion times harder than the VCR, which she's still trying to figure out how to work, but I was bound and determined to get her into this century. She balked extensively.

Since then, she's gone from not knowing how to use the touch screen to make a phone call, to uttering the words "I love this thing. I can see why people can't live without them."

Mission accomplished.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2011: Straight Talk
2010: Who Knew There Were Things To Do Other Than Eating Pie?
2009: 157 Years Of Light
2008: Call Me. We Have Telephones In Nebraska Now.
2007: Reach For The Sky
2006: Sorry, no post on this day.
2005: Sorry, no post on this day.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tough Choice: Scale Mountains Or Flip Channels

I'm currently reading a book written by a friend of mine about her experience walking the Appalachian Trail. There's one passage in the book that depicts a hairy moment while she was climbing Lehigh Gap in Pennsylvania. It's a sheer vertical rock face - nowhere to go but up - and that day, she wasn't feeling like she was going to make it all the way up.

When I talked to her about it last night, she directed me to YouTube to check out the following video, which shows a man climbing the very spot she wrote about. She said seeing it was a better way of explaining what she was talking about.

The main difference between her and this guy? This guy is BLIND. Completely bah-lind.

I watched the video with my mother, and after we discussed the reasons why people climb things - and how it was he knew where he was placing his hands and feet, and how his walking poles were getting tangled between his legs and he was on the verge of tripping himself - I had to go there. I had to voice what was running through my head.

"The thing I don't get, and it's nothing against blind people, is that yeah, great, he climbed it. But it's not even like he can turn around, sit on top of the rocks and enjoy the view. Isn't that the whole point of climbing to the top of a picturesque mountain?" I said.

"Exactly." she said.

Then my mother, who understands even less than I do why people want to climb mountains, jump out of planes or scuba dive - whether it's 2 or 20 thousand leagues under the sea - uttered one of her classic talks-before-she-thinks lines:

"If I were blind, I'd just sit and watch TV all day."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Eyes On The Road
2010: When You Own, You Owe
2009: It’s Not The Nina, Pinta And Santa Maria
2008: One Word At A Time
2007: The Only Way It Could Have Been Better Would Be If It Came With A Side Of Fried Rice
2006: Wanna Sip Of My Jagermeister?
2005: Playing Favorites

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Welcome To Hell

This is the weather that greeted us when we got home yesterday. I seriously don't know why the hell I live in this horrible, horrible, miserable, murder-inducing hot place. The decision to live here was not mine, the blame for that falls on others; but I can only blame myself for staying.

Because my immediate family is here, I've elected to call this my home base. No sense having a home base in the snowy mountains of Vermont if there is no family to see when you get there. Thankfully, I'm on the road so much, I miss most of this weather.

I don't know how people work in it (landscapers, roofers, construction workers, etc.), and I don't know how people play in it (golfers, hikers, cyclists, etc.). And my poor nephews, all three of which play baseball, play in this weather. Personally, I think it's abusive to the kids; people don't let their animals stay outside in this weather, yet they'll let little kids stand under the brutal sun in polyester uniforms.

I can't think of anything more miserable than this kind of heat. I'd seriously rather have a root canal. I felt the worst for Ed, who had to unload the truck and roll up the tarps in the blazing sun. He was beet red and sweating profusely when he got back into the truck. It was so hot outside - the generator was laboring to provide us with air-conditioning - that the temperature in the sleeper never went below 81 degrees. That's sheer insanity. The minute we got home, Ed jumped in a refreshing shower, put on his pajama pants and a t-shirt, and hit the lazyboy.

We have a lot to do while we're home this time, but a lot of it involves being outside - I might just have to shelve those little chores until our next visit home - they're just not that important. On the plus side, I'm excited at the prospect of
our friends coming to visit - the tentative plans are that they'll be here Thursday through Saturday, providing everything with their load goes well. Dinner and conversation extravaganza on the horizon!

Note to anyone who is thinking about visiting Southern Arizona: a) you probably shouldn't come at all based on the sheer fact that the people who run our state are assholes, but if you do decide to come, b) don't do it in the summer. You'll be kicking yourself for not vacationing on the surface of the sun.

It's cooler there.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
When She Passes Each One She Passes Goes Ahhhh
2010: The Key To Being Funny
2009: Wishes Really Do Come True
2008: Eddie Plays It Safe Friday
2007: What Road?
2006: I’m STILL Looking To Get Me Some Good BBQ
2005: Say Cheese!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

This One Time, At Summer Camp...

Ed and were talking this week about kids who go to summer camp - I asked him if he'd ever been - he has, I haven't. But I always wanted to go.

The following pictures are from the "Images of America" book series; this one is on the Town of Mamakating and was written by Monika A. Roosa. I'm including these photos because they're of the beach my family owned on Masten Lake in the Catskill Mountain area of New York, where I spent most of my teen years.
There were several summer camps in the area and a few of them used our beach as access to the lake to teach kids how to waterski, etc. I used to look at these kids and think, "How cool are they that they get to spend the whole summer at camp??" They were usually city kids - Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens - and they'd come up to the country to spend the summer in the sticks.

A lot of them were rich kids, who were usually the only ones fortunate enough to be sent to camp for the entire summer. Whereas my mother would be the one writing my name inside my clothing with black magic marker, these kids were the type
to have woven labels with their full names on them, sewn into everything they owned. This wasn't a camp for poor kids.
At the time I didn't give it much thought, but now I realize there were some benefits to sending kids to camp. And for those who went year after year, they'd build lifelong friendships with people that continued throughout their lives; some campers even came back as adults to be counselors themselves. Another plus, the kids got to get out of the broiling hot city for the summer. Lake water is much more fun than the city pool.

I suppose as much as I wanted to go to camp, I didn't really need to. I already had what these kids were trying to experience. I lived in the country. I had access to a beach and a lake, I waterskied at will, my brother and I would take the jon boat out to row over to the "cove" area where the water was covered in lilypads and where we were convinced the best fish hid out, and we spent every day of our summer on the sand and in the water. We lived camp every day, not just for a few weeks. Camp Lakota was located across the lake, and had been there since the 1920s. Sometimes we'd attempt to swim from our side of the lake to theirs, but we'd get halfway out into the lake and realize just how far it really was. We'd have to lay on our backs and float for a while to get the energy to swim back. Or holler to someone on the beach to get the boat and come get us.

Camp Na-Sho-Pa was the camp that used our beach area. They'd show up in vans, all the kids would pile out, and they'd congregate in one corner of the beach area, at a dock that was in the same place as the one you see in the foreground of the photo above. They'd bring their ski boats and load up the kids at the dock, taking them out in shifts to teach them to waterski.

While they did that, my girl cousins and I would ogle the cute camp counselors. I'll never forget Danny - cute, long foppish hair, golden tan - he looked like what we imagined a "California Boy" would look like. Even though none of us had ever been west of Pennsylvania, let alone to California to see boys of any kind.

In the second photo, you'll see the building we called the casino - it wasn't a casino in the way we use the word now, as there was no gambling going on there. In some cases, these type of casino buildings did have some gambling, but this definition I found online more defines the way we used the word: "The term "casino" is of Italian origin, the root word being "casa" (house) and originally meant a small country villa, summerhouse or pavilion. The word changed to refer to a building built for pleasure, usually on the grounds of a larger Italian villa or palazzo. Such buildings were used to host civic town functions – including dancing, music listening, and gambling."

Since there weren't any villas in the neighborhood, our casino was used more in the pavilion sense, with music, dancing, and food. The caption under the Masten Lake Casino photo in the book read, "Many dances with live bands were held there in the 1920s and 1930s. The casino also contained a jukebox, a bowling machine, pinball machines, Ping-Pong tables, and a piano. Sunbathers were able to rent 100 percent wool Jansen bathing suits, and nearly 70 lockers were available so that they could safely store their belongings. Candy, ice cream, soda, and hot dogs were available for the swimmers as well."

We ran a concession stand from the casino for years, selling hot dogs and sodas and candy. The interior wasn't open to the public but the dance floor was still intact, there was an old jukebox standing in a corner, and the changing rooms were still in the back, outfitted with benches, hooks for your bathing suits, and curtains for privacy. Year-round, we used a lot of the space inside for storage for our restaurant - overflow tables and chairs, kitchen equipment, extra china, and coffee cups and cutlery to name a few. It was a great time in my life, being at the lake and working the concession stand. I felt like I was at camp every day.

Eventually, the building was condemned and in such disrepair that it had to be torn down. That was a sad time for me, as if my memories were being bulldozed, but intellectually I know that's not so. I will carry those memories forever, as they are some of the best of my life.

I guess I didn't need camp to have a great summer, as being camped out at Masten Lake, surrounded by my family and friends (and cute boys!) turned out to be more than enough.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Not Sure The Money Will Follow

Have you heard the saying, "Do what you love, the money will follow."? I'm not so sure it would apply in this scenario.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

An Art Deco Tower In The Panhandle

We finally had a chance to stop at the Tower Conoco Gas Station in Shamrock, Texas. We've exited here before to stop at the McDonald's, but never driven into town to see the gas station, which sits on old Route 66. You can see us parked in the background of this photo.
This station may seem familiar to some of you, as it was the inspiration for Ramone’s Body Shop in the Disney/Pixar movie Cars. I love the Art Deco design of the building. It's so unique and really unseen in any of today's modern buildings. This building has character, it's not cookie-cutter like the one's we're used to patronizing.
Taken from the site is the following: "In the 1930s it became clear that the newly established Route 66 would cut through the north end of Shamrock, TX. The owners of the prime corner lot at the new crossroads of the Del Rio Canadian Road (83) and Route-66 were offered a deal. Sell the land and have a beautiful custom designed building constructed on the site for their own use. The owners jumped at the deal and one immediately grabbed a stick and sketched the building he wanted in the dirt for the prospective buyer. The drawing was transferred to paper and the station was born.
The building was constructed as three separate businesses: 1. The Tower Conoco Station, so named for the tall tower gracing its roof. 2. The U-Drop Inn Cafe, named by a local schoolboy in a contest that awarded him $50.00 for his idea. 3. A retail store, never used as such, but soon taken over by the cafe folks for use as a ballroom and overflow dining room.

The building was
beautiful in its day; neon lighting, deco details and glazed ceramic tile walls. It gradually took a beating, the biggest hit coming in the 70s when it was painted red-white-and-blue and converted to a FINA station. The building operated successfully for most of its life, finally closing completely in the mid 90s."
The building now houses the Shamrock Chamber of Commerce. There is a small gift shop seeling t-shirts and memoribilia with the Tower Conoco image on it.

We also had dinner at
Big Vern’s Steakhouse, which is just down the street from the Conoco. The steak was good, although we thought a bit pricey for Shamrock, TX, must be the captive Route 66 audience and the absence of places to eat in the area.
That's not to say we wouldn't go again. The corn muffins were awesome, the steaks done perfectly, and the fried zucchini appetizer unexpected (as you can see in the photo) - huge hand-cut batter dipped pieces, not the frozen sticks you get in some places.

What I also liked is that they seemed to be using vintage china and cutlery - big, heavy plates rimmed in gold, with a big gold "F" on them, and heavyweight cutlery stamped with the words "Fairmont Hotel". When I asked the owner about it she said she had a choice to buy new plates which were made in China, or these, which came from the old Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco and were made in the USA. She chose the USA. Now that's a good 'ol Texan for you.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Traffic Might Just Have Saved My Life
2010: Joining The Ranks
2009: The Daily Rant Goes Farther East Than Ever Before
2008: What He Does When I’m Sleeping
2007: Now You Don’t Have To Go To The Ghetto To Get Crack
2006: Satchel Pitches A Great Question
2005: A Night In Yakima

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Beautiful Strangler

I love kudzu. I know it's an invasive plant and according to reports in 2009, it's said to be spreading at a rate of 150,000 acres annually, strangling and suffocating everything in it's path.

But there's just something about it. It's very green and lush, and it forms a blanket over almost everything. I've seen it cover buildings and vehicles, telephone poles and wires, farm equipment and barns; the vine following their shapes and creating aomething that looks as if it were molded of leaves.

I'm sure not everyone loves kudzu like I do, especially if they live in an area that's being strangled by it, but I will always look in awe and shout, "Kudzu!" to Ed when I see it. And try to snap a picture, like this one. It's not the best
kudzu I've seen, but it was the best I could do at short notice, fumbling for my camera in the bottom of my bag and trying to snap a photo as Ed whizzed by!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Art Enables Us To Find Ourselves And Lose Ourselves At The Same Time
2010: Even God Can’t Help Men
2009: My President’s House
2008: Don’t Give Up Hope If You Just Don’t Know What You Want To Be When You Grow Up, You Have Choices
2007: Alright, Mr. DeMille, I’m Ready For My Close Up
2006: Stone Magnolia
2005: Fitty Nine!!!

Friday, June 22, 2012

View From The Bridge

This was the view from the bridge just before coming into St. Louis. Had time to snap a shot since we were stuck in traffic for an hour. Enjoy.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

You Won't Miss Me Coming On This Bike

Ed and I are still on the hunt for bicycles. We went shopping again two weeks ago and test rode two bikes that we really liked. We were close to buying them, but we still haven't figured out how we want to mount them on the truck. Ed has some ideas, but beacause we can't just go out and buy a conventional car bike rack, he might have to configure it himself.

We'll be heading back home soon and when we do, we'll go to the bike store we visited a few months ago and take another test ride. It feels a little awkward being on the bike, but I think if I do it more, I'll feel more comfortable on it. And it'll be a form of exercise, but I won't have to call it exercise.

And on a bike like this, I'll look so purty doing it!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
An Extra Large Bargain
2010: Maybe You Can Learn A Little Something From A Few Truck Drivers
2009: The Fathers In Our Lives, Our Fathers Who Art In Heaven And The Father Of Our Country
2008: Who The Hell Left The Pool Float In The Sea Of Tranquility??
2007: Lure Me In
2006: Sometimes The Reasons NOT To Have Children Are So Very Clear
2005: U-Ta-Dah!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Not Despicable At All

Here's a picture of Ed trying on a hat my sister-in-law's father made. He's a crazy prolific knitter and when I saw this, I fell in love with it. I told him I wanted him to make one for a friend of mine who just had a daughter and he said, "Take that one."

So I did. It's modeled after the hat Edith wears in
Despicable Me. I made Ed try it on because I knew if it fit Ed's head, it would fit my friend's daughter.

I liked it so much, I think I'll be putting in an order to get one for Ed for the winter - in boy colors, of course.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Slice Of Summer
2010: Time Suck
2009: The Spirit Of Sharing
2008: Sailor Boy Friday
2007: Cozy Dining
2006: It’s All About Me
2005: Alien Land

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

She's Political Coming And Going And Doesn't Even Know It

I talk to my mother at least once a day, either I call her or she calls me. Today, I called her.

“So, what did you do today?” I said.

“I went to the bank, then had to fit in an echocardiogram.” she said.

“Oh? How'd that go?” I asked.

“Oh, absolutely fine. I was just a little short of breath, and when I told my doctor, he ordered it for me.” she said.

Then, “I love my new hair cut.”

“Oh yeah? Your boy cut?” I said, eluding to the family joke my nephews started about Nana getting a “boy’s haircut” because she likes to keep it so short.

“It's so easy. And it’s been so fucking hot, when I come home I just jump in the shower, get out, run my fingers through my hair, bloop-bloop, and it's done."

I turned to Ed and said, "Mommy got a boy haircut."

“Oh yeah?” he said, “She’s going to have to tell the boys about it.”

“She already called Joey and told him.” I said, relaying the information that she called the nephew who started the whole “boy’s haircut” thing.

“What'd he say?” he said.

“He just laughed at her.” I said. “You know, in his little raspy voice.”

“Yeah, and now…” my mother’s voice was in my ear again, "I look like that guy that Ed said.”

“What guy?” I said.

“That guy - I don't know - Ed said I looked like him the night we all went to that steakhouse.” she said.

“Oh yeeaah. Ed, who's that comedian-turned-politician guy?” I turned and asked him.

"Oh, Al Franken." he said.

“Right, right." I laughed. "Al Franken, Mom. That's who it is."

“Is he the one Frank hated?" she asked.

"Probably. He's a Democrat." I said, remembering my step-father’s political views.

"Is he the gay one?" she said.

"No, that's Barney Frank."

"Oh, yeah. That's the one Frank didn't like. He’d be yelling at the TV screen every time he was on." she said.

"Well, you could look like Barney Frank too - he's short and chubby. But in the face, you look more like Al Franken."

Then Ed said, "But she kinda looks like Barney Frank from behind."

I was laughing so hard, I couldn't get the words out, while my mother was saying, "What? What?? What is he saying?"

I finally said, “Ed said you kinda look like Barney Frank from behind, because he’s short and chubby too.”

She burst out laughing at this.

Oddly, my mother loves to be picked on by us (kids, grandkids, doesn't matter). Thankfully, she provides us with endless opportunities to goof on her.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Old As She Was, She Still Missed Her Daddy Sometimes
2010: Crafty Little Bugger
2009: Beauty For A Buck
2008: What My Thoughts Sound Like When Left Uncensored And Ultimately, Formed Into Words
2007: New York Style
2006: I.H.O.P.G.
2005: Sorry, no post on this day.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Woman's Work Is Never Done

Since you saw what Ed does most of the time in yesterday's photo, today I will show you the result of some of my work - the dinner dishes.
I've always enjoyed the cooking part much more than the cleaning up part. I'm like a cyclone in the kitchen - everything comes out, the countertops are a wreck, all the burners are going at once - and then I have to clean it up. I've had friends ask me to cook for them and my answer is always, "Sure, if you clean up."

I don't have a lot of space to cook in the truck, and I only have a single basin sink. And of course, I don't have a dishwasher. Well, unless Ed takes pity on me. So usually, my counter looks like this when I'm done. I use a drying mat that I bought at Bed, Bath & Beyond and I pile dishes, glasses, pots, pans and utensils like a Jenga game.

I may have a sink full of dirty dishes, but I have a belly full of deeelicious food! Oh, yeah!

As you can tell, trucking and travel stories are a little light this weekend, but hopefully the coming week will provide something interesting to post about.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Old Timey Road Trip
2010: Are You Ready For Some Football?!
2009: Hangin’ In The Sea Cave
2008: Weekend In Wyoming
2007: Ready For Nautical Knots
2006: Australia Isn’t Far Enough Away For These Bitches To Hide
2005: Texas Suicide

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Load Check

Here's Ed checking the straps on one of our recent loads. After getting loaded, it's always a good idea to check your securement devices about an hour or so down the road, especially straps. Even though straps are made of a "resin-coated polyester for minimum stretch", they still need to be looked at when you stop because no matter what the manufacturer says, they still stretch and get loose.

So after you've driven a bit and the load has had a chance to settle from the vibration of the truck, it's always a good idea to get out, do a walk-around, and check to make sure everything is still in place.

Ed is THE BEST "loader" in the business, and most of the time he ratchets the straps down so tight, they never move. Often, all that's required is to circle the truck and 'tap-tap' the straps, sort of flicking them with your hand to check the tautness. You should see his tarping jobs - they're wrapped like Christmas presents from Macy's!

When I'm driving, I employ the "smack-the-strap" technique; I walk around the truck and smack on each strap to make sure they haven't moved. If they do, all I need to do is get the ratchet bar out to tighten them down a little, but it's rare if I even have to do that.

The best load checks are exactly those - the ones where you don't have to do anything.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Hotel Special Effects In An Instant
2010: The Great American Shoe Hunt
2009: The First Glimpse Of The People’s Coast
2008: Ohhhh, So This Is How It Works
2007: Can You Hear Me Stereotyping Now?
2006: In The Kitchen With Eddie
2005: Top Ten

Friday, June 15, 2012

Crash Test Dummy

My mother called today to give me the run down on her day. She was out and about running errands; picking up prescriptions at the pharmacy, stopping at the party store to get decorations for the Father's Day dinner she was preparing for my brother, hitting the grocery store to buy ingredients for said dinner, and then popping into Old Navy to get my brother a few pairs of the cargo pants he likes to wear for work.

That's where she was when she called me, Old Navy.

"Boy, I never realized all the great stuff they have in here." she said.

"I know." I said.

"And the prices are pretty reasonable." she said.

"Yeah, they have some cute stuff. They usually have an area in the back with clearance stuff too. But why are you in Old Navy??" I asked, since she never shops there.

"I came in to get your brother some of the cargo pants he likes." she said. "For Father's Day."

"Oh yeah, they're a good deal." I said.

"But you know, as I'm walking around, I was a little disoriented. When I came into the store it was very crowded, there were a lot a people right in the entrance from the mall. But it turns out a lot of the people were mannequins." she said.

"Yeah," I laughed. "That's kinda their thing. They use those mannequins in a lot of their commercials."

"Well, they startled me. As I was walking through the crowd, I bumped into one of them and it teetered. I reached out to steady it because I thought I bumped into an old lady, almost knocking her over.” she said.

“C’mon, really?? You didn’t know it was a mannequin?” I said.

“Well, you turn around and they’re right there. In fact, there's one standing next to me right now." she said.

"Standing next to you?" I said.

"Yeah. It's standing right next to me."

"Mom. The mannequin is not standing next to you. You are standing next to the mannequin." I said.

“It’s scary. You have to look at their face to know they’re mannequins. They're dressed in clothes and they look like people. It's creepy. I think it's a stupid thing to have in a store.” she said.

"Where should they be??" I asked.

"Well, it's one thing to have them in the window, but it's stupid to have them in the store next to the people shopping there." she said.

And there you have it, folks. These are the things my mother comes up with, on almost a daily basis. If she's not annoying me, she's making me laugh. And because I have a blog, I have the opportunity to share the story and possibly make other people laugh too.

I have to wonder though - what is she going to be like when she gets really old??

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No Fudd Found Near This Fountain
2010: The Very Thoughtful Man
2009: SPAM: Not The E-mail Kind
2008: How Casting A Memory Begins With A Fish
2007: A Weekend At The End Of The Rainbow
2006: If I Were In People Magazine
2005: Free Mudflap

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Patchwork Of Farms

Do you see this? Do you know what it is? It's land. Acres and acres of land. In Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Isn't it amazing? Click to make it bigger - you'll see what I mean.

It's a screen shot from my iPad - I was navigating in the truck yesterday using the mapping program, and as I was looking at this I thought, "Boy, that's beautiful."
According to a website that provides buggy rides to the visitors in Bird-In-Hand, Pennsylvania: "There are approximately 4,800 small farms in Lancaster County. That's more small farms than any county in the United States. Approximately 2,000 of these farms are dairy farms with the remaining 2,800 being producers of poultry and pork products.

Amish farms in Lancaster number about 1,500. Lancaster County produces more milk, eggs, and poultry meat than any county in the US. It is fourth ranked in hog production.

In spite of being the most intensely farmed, highly productive agricultural region in the world, Lancaster County still has to bring in feed. This is due to the large amount of animals (chickens and hogs) in confinement. In an average year the county imports about 600,000 tons of shell corn, most of which comes from Ohio and Indiana. Millions of pounds of hay comes in from as far away as Canada."

Pretty amazing, isn't it? Here's a photo of a farmer working his field with horses pulling his equipment.
I love driving through these areas and seeing the Amish working the fields like this. It still amazes me that they're not tempted to use modern equipment. Or electricity. But I did see a girl with a cell phone - that's allowed, because it's not a "wire coming into the home connecting them to the outside world" - wires in the home are verboten.
We drove through Lancaster, Bird-In-Hand and Intercourse; missed Blue Ball, though. Gotta love those charming town names.

At the Bird-In-Hand Farmer's Market, I bought fruits and vegetables and a beautiful pork roast - what else would I buy in an area that's ranked fourth in hog production?? I already have a tasty plan for it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Keeping Time In A Place That Goes From Salty To Sweet In Less Than A Mile

Yesterday we spent the afternoon in Lititz, Pennsylvania - a town located in Lancaster County, commonly referred to as "Pennsylvania Dutch Country". It's a sweet little town, with shops, cafes, and historic buildings sprinkled throughout the tiny borough.
There's a chocolate factory where they make a little chocolate bud that pre-dates the Hershey Kiss; a Rolex funded watch technicum (which is the Soviet term for an institute of vocational education), where they teach the art of Swiss watchmaking; an all-girls boarding school, which is the oldest in the country; and the oldest commercial pretzel bakery in the United States, which turns out hand-twisted sourdough pretzels made with a recipe derived from French monasteries. I can personally vouch for the chocolate and the pretzels - both were reaallly delicious.
While walking down Main Street (yes, we parked our rig right on the main drag!), the display in this shop window caught my eye. The poster for TokyoMilk not only had a Marie Antoinette-esque image, but the company sells products with French designs on the labels; in fact, many of the products even have French names, like La Petit, La Vie La Mort, and Tour Eiffel.
We love little towns like this but don't always find them easy to visit because they rarely have truck parking. We're probably a little bolder than most drivers, mainly because I will beg and plead with Ed to take routes and turn onto streets that make him say, like he did yesterday, "No trucker in his right mind would be driving down this alley." Yes, I'm convinced he loves me.
To experience the real zest of this little community, you'll just have to visit. Taking time to drive through small towns and villages is a great way to see the places that make our country so fabulous. If you want to learn more about this town, where only Moravians were permitted to live for the first century of its existence, visit the town's website.

And if you do go, make sure the following places are on your list of things to see: Heavenly Soaps & Scents, where you'll find candles, soaps and Tokyo Milk products; the pretzel bakery and the chocolate factory for your salty and sweet cravings; the watch technicum to understand a bit about the people who help keep time; and the boarding school for girls, founded by the Moravians in 1746.

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Pride Of The United States Air Force
2010: The Dinosaur Rears Its Ugly Head
2009: Kidnapping Is Obviously Not Their Forte
2008: Eddie Friday On Ice
2007: Having Influence Where It Matters
2006: MacGyver To The Rescue
2005: The Weekend

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I'm Too Thrifty For My Shirt, Too Thrifty For My Shirt, So Thrifty It Hurts

While we were in Chicago, I went on a little walk to check out a resale shop I read about online. The proceeds from the shop go to help those who are under- or uninsured, so I figured if I did spend any money, it'd be going to a good cause.

I wasn't looking for anything in particular, but sometimes you come across a real find, so I had to at least look. Clothing doesn't usually pan out for me because being a plus-sized chiquita, my choices are limited. I think that'd be one benefit of being a skinny-balink - I'd be able to go vintage without any issues. I did see a dress that I was seriously tempted to buy for my cousin, but I wasn't completely sure she'd be interested so I passed on it.

I did try on one pair of shoes - gorgeous pointy-toed Stuart Weitzman heels for $40.00. These shoes typically run around $300.00 a pair and I walked back and forth in them for a few minutes - they were in perfect condition, the soles weren't even scuffed - before putting them back on the display table. Finding shoes for my giant feet is always a challenge, but since I don't need pointy-toed stilletos in the truck, I had to pass. It was painful.

Then I rounded the corner and these caught my eye:

How could they not? Look at them. They were practically screaming from the shelf. I picked them up, turned them over, inspected them. They were Ed's size and I was totally going to buy them. I always thought it was a little weird to buy shoes in a resale shop, but these sneakers were in PERFECT condition. It's like they were on a date with the Stuart Weitzman pumps - two perfect pairs out for the day. OK, that's lame, but I'm totally serious. They were perfect.

The laces were in pristine condition - bright yellow, and looked as if they'd never even been tied. The mesh on the front didn't have a spot on it. The soles were clean and bright, perfectly new rubber. And the interior didn't have a visible speck of anything. I would bet my pinky toe that these shoes had never been worn. I think someone either got them as a gift, or bought them and then decided they hated them. Maybe they weren't into the bright colors. Who knows.

What I DO know, is that I totally scored a deal. I knew the brand name was expensive, but didn't realize
how much they were until I got home and Googled them. I found the same exact pair, color and everything, for $120.00. You know what I paid for them?

TWELVE DOLLARS! That's right, twelve freakin' dollars. I rock.

I really wanted to go back to the truck with a little surprise for Ed, and since he's been doing a lot of running lately, I thought these were perfect. So I paid for my shoes, hit the Whole Foods across the street for a few things, and then walked back to the truck.

Turns out the shoes fit Ed perfectly and he liked them - liking even more that they glow in the dark - I'm not really sure why that matters since it's unlikely that he'll be running at night. Maybe it'll help me find the shoes when he leaves them where he's not supposed to.

From now on, when he leaves to go on a run, I'm going to yell "You glow, boy!" as he sprints away from the truck.

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Except It’s Not Four, It’s ONE
2010: A Few Pictures And Less Than A Thousand Words
2009: Explosions Of Color And Flavor
2008: A Big Gay Case Of Mistaken Identity
2007: Gilding The Shopping Lily
2006: Dog Day Afternoon
2005: Sorry, no post on this day.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Opening The Door To An Amazing Houzz

I recently wrote about my new love of post and beam homes and barn homes and how I've fallen in love with the open floor plans and rustic look. In the case of the barn homes, I really love the casual look of it when combined with something a little more modern. I'm not about kitchy "chicken and duck" country decor, but I wouldn't quack at a well placed duck, especially if it worked with the rest of the room.

Because I'm on this dream house decor hunt, RuthAnn recently suggested I check out Houzz, a website that caters to just that. I put the app on my iPad and can't seem to find time for doing much of anything else. I'm obsessed with it. In fact, in keeping with the barn home hunt, I've dedicated a whole section of photos to internal doors - barn style, baby!

What I love most is that they seem to easily fit into any decor. For instance, this room is kind of contemporary, but it's using a sliding barn door type of system, and I love the simple lines of the wood, which contrasts the rustic looking hardware of the sliding system.
This next room looks a little more industrial, and I love the exposed brick wall. It looks like an old warehouse that's been made into loft apartments or something - which is another favorite housing style of mine. Unfortunately, most of the industrial areas in this country, the ones with abandoned warehouses and factories, are in crappy areas. And I don't need a guy who runs a meth lab for a neighbor.

The other great thing about the barn doors - especially if they actually come off a barn - is that you're reusing materials, which cuts down on waste. In fact, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has an entire page about Industrial Materials Recycling - you can have recycled barn doors in your home, and foundry sand mixed into your driveway! How very green of you.

So you can create a modern room by recycling other materials, whether it's barn wood furniture, barn doors, warehouse components, etc.

You are limited only by your imagination!

There are so many examples of rooms like these online, and the possibilities for using reclaimed or recycled materials are endless. Mixing and matching the modern, with weathered old style pieces, can make for an amazingly original space.

So if you have hours and hours to waste - like I apparently do - you might want to start with the website RuthAnn turned me on to. It's seriously like home decor crack.

Check it out

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Ed And His Wahini
2010: Beauty Vs. Practicality
2009: No Mussels Kneaded When Eating Homemade Bread
2008: Dog Day Afternoon
2007: A Prayer For Alberta
2006: Tassimo Time
2005: Sorry, no post on this day.