Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wonder Woman vs. The Swamp Thing

So, with the Hubs back to work full time (Hurray!) there has been a growing backlog of little tasks and errands building up. I decided to take off work a couple of hours early and try to knock some of those out so they would not be a lingering concern for me as I gear up for the holidays.

I headed downtown and picked up a prescription for the kiddo, then my own contact lenses that have been languishing at the optometrist’s for over a week because his office has a really kooky schedule and I can never seem to hit it at the right time. Then I bop on over to Aldi. Because I? Am not only effectual, I am thrifty. I buy the creamer and the hubby’s sodas…those were the pressing needs. Then I go ahead and pick up the ham and the pie ingredients that I will need as my family’s contribution to Thanksgiving. All at low, low prices.

Leaving Aldi, I swing by the vape shop for some supplies (Jeff hasn’t had a cigarette since March! Another yay!) and head to the house to make dinner…which will be delicious. I have marinated turkey tenderloin, sweet potatoes to roast and some Brussels sprouts. Usually, dinner is something that we can throw together in 10-15 minutes because we get home and we are STARVING. But today, I actually have time to put together a nice meal. Right about now? I am feeling like Wonder Woman



I unload the groceries, let the dogs in, and start to prepare my dinner. I have decided to stay dressed in my work clothes since I am looking mighty damn cute today, if I do say so myself. (Eggplant colored sweater dress, funky paisley leggings and studded ankle boots) It’s a little silly, but I want Jeff to see me in this outfit and not in my normal schlepping around the house wardrobe (baggy t-shirt…usually his, no bra, pajama bottoms). So I tie an apron on and get busy fixin’ dinner. (Brief side story…we once had some vendor from England visiting out at my workplace. The receptionist told him that she was about to leave because she had to “carry her daughter to practice and then fix supper.” He was completely flummoxed about what this lady was doing. Apparently, in the Queen’s English, you ‘re only “carrying” something if you are physically lifting it, and you only “fix” something that is broken.)


I get the turkey tenderloin in the oven, peel the sweet potatoes over the sink…then dice them, drizzle a little olive oil and sprinkle them with some bourbon/brown sugar seasoning stuff and pop those in beside the turkey. The brussels sprouts get the same treatment, but with some kind of savory seasoning mixture. I go to the sink to wash down the potato and brussels sprouts scraps…turn on the garbage disposal and…GUSH!!!! Up spouts a geyser of sweet potato peelings and gray, foul smelling liquid. I’m telling you, this fountain of vile spewed up 3 feet, minimum. It went ALL. OVER. MY. KITCHEN. Thank God, all of the food was in the oven and not sitting on any counter space. I have flecks of Brussels sprouts giblets and potato peels in my hair…my cute sweater dress is doused with the disgusting pipe backwash…which is also on the floor, on the counter, on the blinds! Gag! Literally, I am gagging. The smell is horrific. I cut the water and the disposal off…grab some paper towels and do a cursory swipe at anything dripping. I head upstairs and take off my cute (befouled) clothes in the laundry room and grab a pair of yoga pants and a working-around-the-yard T-shirt so that I can go deal with this mess. I’m not feeling so Wonder-Woman-y anymore. I’m feeling more like the Swamp Thing


know I SMELL like the Swamp Thing. I get two buckets, drag everything out from under the sink…and the door bell rings. It’s our HVAC repair dude (and that’s a story for another post…maybe tomorrow’s). Getting back under the sink, I take the PVC pipes apart from where they attach to the disposal over to the U-joint.

What was in that horizontal run of pipe was unspeakable. The cats ran from it, and they lick their own butts. I took it outside and over to the empty lot and dumped it and rinsed it out. The police have probably had reports of the smell of a dead body by now.

I did somehow manage to put the sink back together, put the under-the-sink items back up (why do I have three bottles of Mop n’ Glow in various levels of empty? I’ve been in this house 9 years and can’t remember using anything but a Swiffer WetJet), clean the cabinets and counter tops (with BLEACH) and make myself more-or-less presentable (at least non-smelly and sans potato peelings) before Jeff got home.

Hey, maybe I am a little bit Wonder Woman.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Something borrowed





My good friend, co-worker and sometimes aider-and-abettor, Jenn, just got married the other day.  This being the second time around the wedding block for both of them, they went to elopement route.
In a vineyard. In Napa Valley. At sunset. Gah!
Yes, they are "that" disgustingly perfect couple...and if I didn't love 'em so much and if they each hadn't had to wade through Crap River for years to find each other I'd have to hate them. But they did have to go through some mighty shitty circumstances to finally find each other...so I'll let them have their picturebook wedding (literally, I bet the vineyard uses these two in their advertisements) without being TOO snarky.
Of course, leading up to the actual nuptials got a little nerve wracking...especially for Jenn.  Since the two of them were like a house a'fire for each other, they had not allowed a lot of flash-to-bang time between the engagement and the wedding.  And that meant that the dress was of imminent concern.  Jenn had ordered a couple of dresses off of Amazon (not being your typical twenty-something bride with a 300 headcount church wedding meant she could go a little non-traditional).  When the dresses came in, she loved one of them...but it was WAY off on the sizing. (Have I mentioned Jenn is a tall blonde of runway model proportions? Bitch.)  She sent it back, ordered what she hoped was the right size and then was frantically looking for "Dress B".  The perfect dress had to be remade and then put on a slow boat from China.
The royal couple (as we took to calling them) was leaving for the West Coast in 10 days...my normally calm, cool and collected friend started to get a little wild-eyed look about her.  When she wasn't trying to get a bead on her dress through international package tracking, she was looking for a back-up dress.  And getting more and more distraught.
Finally, as a JOKE, I told her that she was more than welcome to borrow my wedding dress...as it was hanging in my upstairs closet even as we spoke.  And I sent her pictures of me in my wedding dress in all of my 1990 glory.
Travel back in time with me...back to a time when Madonna "Material Girl" hair ruled the world and the people believed that EVERYTHING, including bathrobes and wedding dresses needed shoulder pads:

Now, I ain't gonna lie...I'd probably be willing to perform unmentionable acts to have that figure back (except, apparently, diet and exercise). Even if it is clad in blindingly white satin so slick that I couldn't sit down in that dress without almost sliding out of the chair. But you do not even want to guess at the amount of Aqua Net it took to get my eternally straight hair to acquire that much poof.
 
 
I got this dress at the JCPenney wedding outlet store in Georgia.  I though it was the loveliest thing I had ever laid eyes on. I bought it for $99.
 
 
Finally, I feel we must address the gi-normous poofy sleeves.  What is with those? Am I smuggling severed heads in there?  Are they there to provide a handy place to tuck my bouquet when I need my hands free?  I have no idea.
 
Sadly enough, I did not actually get married in my wedding dress.  Jeff and I had slated an August wedding date...but sometime mid-May the wedding planning, accentuated by my newly-divorced, warring parents got the better of me and I had a complete come-apart.  After getting my sniveling under control Jeff just pronounced: "Screw it.  Pack a bag, we'll get married in Panama City this weekend." Which we did.
 
And my sweet Jenn?  Her dress arrived about 4 days before departure for their elopement/honeymoon.  It's no mandarin-collar-having, severed head-concealing sleeved, shiney white confection of a dress that mine was...but I do admit that it fit her, and the current decade, beautifully.
 
 
Congratulations, you crazy kids!


Monday, October 6, 2014

Winds of Fortune

I'm interrupting my series of posts on my wonderful trip to Europe to address a mounting issue I have with the universe.  Or maybe it's the universe that has an issue with me.

Freaking fortune cookies.

I get the WORST fortunes you have ever seen out of a fortune cookie.
Here's a real, live fortune that I got once:



I felt like the kid in A Christmas Story when I got this one...you know, where he's got the magic decoder ring and then when he laboriously decodes the message off of the radio program it reads, "Be sure to drink your Ovaltine"?

Also?  This is not even a fortune!  It's like, advice from a cardiologist.  Or not even that.  It's like advice from your Home Health teacher in 7th grade.

This one at least makes a stab at being a fortune.  But you have to admit, it's still pretty damn lame.

And this one:


For one thing, most shades of green make me look like I've got jaundice.  For another...honestly, is that the best you can do, fortune cookie.
You know that game that people will play with fortune cookies...where you're supposed to read your fortune and then add "...between the sheets?"  My fortune cookies are so lame that I can't even seem a little ribald when I take my turn.

But the fortune that FINALLY put me over the edge.  The cookie that made me realize that either:

A) I am hopelessly beyond good fortune (sing with me, "If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all! Oh! Gloom, despair, and agony on me.")
B) The universe hates me. or
C) Confucius was an asshole

was this one I got just the other day:




What? The? Actual? Hell?  I live in Alabama.  We don't even grow parsnips down here.  I don't know that I've ever even seen one in the grocery store.  I'm pretty sure I've never tasted one.
What does this even mean??  I haven't got a clue.  It's sure not a FORTUNE.  It's not telling me anything that will or won't happen.  It's not even giving me sound advice like, "Floss you teeth for good oral hygiene."

Is this happening to everyone?  Have all fortunes gone to crap?  Did we lose a war or something?


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Dear France





Dear France, I owe you a huge apology.  I have had a bad opinion of you for years...and it was totally undeserved.  You are beautiful and your people (most of them) are lovely.

Of course, the rumors of rude, mean people came via friends and relatives visiting Paris...and that may be a very different thing.  I know that someone visiting, say...New York would get a whole different opinion about how people in the US act than someone visiting the South. (I'm sure there are some very nice people in NY...but they aren't as openly friendly to strangers...I'm just sayin!)
And I was a leetle underwhelmed when we first made port.  The main cruise ship port at Marseille was shared with your regular shipping facilities.


But then, oh then...we took a smaller boat to Vieux Port...


And ohmygosh, ohmygosh, ohmygosh!  I fell in love.

This is Fort St. Jean at the mouth of the Villeux Port.  This picture does not do it justice.

So the night before, Mom and I had out our little map of the area where we were making port and plotting out what we wanted to see.  We decided we'd check out the cathedral right there at the port and then go see the Basilique Notre Dame.  Looking at the map, we were actually thinking (since we had the whole day)...why, we'll probably just stroll around and make our way on foot...I mean, how far can it be, right?  A kilometer is a little over half a mile...so we should be able to do that. 



First things first, the Cahedrale de la Major:




Gorgeous, isn't it?  Sadly, it was closed until September 21st... the day after we returned to the US.  We got some nice pictures of the exterior and then decided we'd head in the direction of the Notre Dame.


So. What was not readily apparent on a map is this...Notre Dame de la Garde?  Was at a very, very different elevation than the port.  Prolly why the Germans occupied it during WWII as lookout.  I did not know that.
Fortunately, the bus system for Marseille is incredibly simple and can be understood by non-French-speaking bumbling American tourists.  The bus driver was SO patient and friendly.  He was trying to convey something to us...and did we really want to go up there?  And of course we did, and he was like, "Okay, Ladies...it's your Euro"

And it was worth the trip:




That's Marseille, way, way down below us.



I think this angel is picking his nose.

There was lots to see on the outside and a good many other tourists had come up as well.  Sadly, the Cathedral itself (and gift stores, and resturant) was closed on Mondays.  Dude, don't ask me...I don't even know.

After we saw and did what we could even though it was Monday (again, what's with that, France?) we caught a cab with another couple from the ship to go back down to "Old Port" where there were supposed to be lovely resturants.

The cab driver(s) up at the cathedral who were SUPPOSEDLY there to make money by taking people places in their cabs were the only rude people I met in France.

Us: Can the four of us get a cab to take us back down?

Spokesperson (I guess) for the cab drivers gathered around: Yes, yes.  You wait over there.

We went "over there" and waited.  We could see the group of 10-12 cabbies still clustered together, talking and smoking.  No one was looking at us.  I wandered over.

Me: Um, you did say one of you could take us back down?

Spokesperson: I say wait over there!

Me: I know.  But someone is interested in taking us back down the hill? Right?  For money.

Spokesperson: We have fares. We wait on them. Someone take you soon.  Wait over there.

I go back to Mom and the British couple.  We wait another 10 minutes until a cab comes up the hill and lets some people out. Before he can drive over to the cluster of others...who are STILL standing together, smoking and not looking at us, I go to his window with money out and ask if he can take the four of us down.

Spokesman cabbie LOSES. HIS. SHIT. :Wait!  I get cab for you when it is time!  I tell you to wait over there!  Not get your own cab!

We just bundled into the newly arrived cab and zoomed away...spokesman cabbie gesturing rudely and sputtering with rage left behind us.

For the life of me I don't know what all of that was about.

Five minutes and approx. 500 vertical feet later, we at Old Port, where we get out and go in search of sustenance.

We settled on this cute little outdoor restaurant:

 
Where we had this cute little outdoor waitress:



 
She was funny and attentive and helpful and completely restored my faith in the people of Marseilles. 
 
We had this for lunch:


 
Yes, it was as delicious as it looks. 
Afterwards, we did some shopping.  Every shop keeper, every cashier, every other patron we saw was friendly...very smiling and helpful.  Apparently, the only assholes are cab drivers.  I bought some trinkets and something called Pastis that I haven't tried yet, but was supposedly a local favorite liquor.  Then we headed back to the ship for some relaxation by the pool before dinner.


 
Sigh...
One (of the very few) downsides to a cruise in Europe.  There are A LOT of speedos out there.  Way, way too many speedos.
 
Say what you will about Americans. At least our men understand the rules for wearing a Speedo.
And they are as follows:

1. Open your wallet.

 2. Take out your driver's license.

 3. Does it say "Daniel Craig"? - if so, maybe you can wear the speedo. Proceed to step 4.

 4. Check your wallet again. Is there an actors guild card also reading "Daniel Craig"?...

 5. If yes, wear that banana sling! If no...then no, you may not wear a speedo


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Day two: Da boat

Day Two dawns on us in Barcelona, Spain.  (If you missed Day One...where we got to see the porn that Picasso created, it's here.) Feeling like a human again, after finally getting some sleep, we trotted on down to the free breakfast.
I travel a good bit (though within the continental US).  I think I know what to usually expect with a free breakfast...some form of reconstituted rubber eggs, some microwaved bacon and/or sausage...toast.  Not that I'm complaining...many's the time that a Hampton Inn grab n' go kept me from going hungry.
But Hotel Barcelona Catedral had a whole different idea about free breakfast:

Basket of fresh baked delishiousness...with jams and butters of your choice.

Do not know what these are called.  But they are dense little cakes that come with a raspberry/cream dipping sauce that will cause you to make sounds not fit for polite company.

Not pictured: made to order eggs, Iberian ham (apparently in Spain, no hour is complete without a little taste of Iberian ham), fruit, wine (yes, wine...red, white and sparking) or coffee and tea.
 
Speaking of the fruit...at every restaurant/cafĂ©/bar/whatever that we went to, they had these pears...they were always cut up so I don't know what they looked like.  They were the best pears I have ever eaten, no lie.  I'm not a huge pear fan, because so many of them are mealy and I hate that.  But these pears were crisp and light and juicy and just delightful.  They were served with everything...they were in every glass of sangria I had.  If anyone knows what I was eating, please let me know.

Door across the street from the hotel that I notice while waiting on our cab.  First thing that springs to my mind is The Bloggess's giant chicken, BeyoncĂ©.  Of course, the Barcelona version would say, "Toc, toc Hijo de puta !"
 
There are no photographs taken during the cab ride to the port.  Do you want to know why?  It's because Mom & I spent the entire trip clutching each other's hands and praying for deliverance.  Barcelona cab drivers are INSANE.  We had a lady cab driver.  She seemed normal. She was polite to us, very helpful with our bags, expressed how deeply touched she was about our mother/daughter bonding vacation.
Then she got behind the wheel of her cab.
And became possessed of a demon.
I have no idea how we arrived at our destination unscathed.  I REALLY don't know how we got there without killing a pedestrian or someone on a motorcycle or Vespa.  The woman had no regard for the sanctity of life of anyone around her while she was operating her death-machine masquerading as a cab.  Of course, all of the other cabs were acting like they were being driven by lunatics as well.  Lunatics that honked and yelled obscenities (I assume) at each other.
Our driver would be gesturing out the window, screeching like a harpy and then turn around to us, and in a normal, sane, conversational voice, point out some landmark to us that we needed to visit the next time we were in Barcelona.  The experience was surreal.
She got us to our designated port, unloaded our luggage for us and told us it had been her pleasure to serve us this morning.  We tipped her heavily...she terrified us.
 
Then we were on the ship:

 
Bye, Bye, Barcelona!  See you in 8 days!
 

Castle or Monastery or something on the hill.  Our bat-shit crazy taxi driver told us what it was, but I was too busy crawling into my Mother's lap for comfort at the time to remember.

Selfies on the boat deck. We have survived our ordeal, and are ready for sail.
 
A real mojito.  Those always help to steady the nerves after a string of near-death encounters in a motor vehicle.

Next up: Marseilles, France. Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Holy Mackrel


Having just returned from a  Mediterranean cruise (that my fabulous mother took me on) I have to say, I highly recommend it.  Now, my documented account of my travels will not do the experience justice, but it will be my account.

First up in my journal of my journey...Barcelona!  Unfortunately, to get to Barcelona, I had to get on a plane...for 9 1/2 hours.  I had seriously hoped to get some snooze time in so that I'd be all bright eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to see the sites.  I had an eye mask.  I had ear plugs. I had an Ambien.  I had free wine, beer and cocktails available to me.  No dice.  I did not sleep a wink.  Oh, but the good news was that about half way across the Atlantic, we ran into a thunderstorm that kept me entertained:



Only thing missing was the Twilight Zone gremlin on the wing of the plane.

But FINALLY, we get to Barcelona!  I get the first stamp in my passport (I've been to Canada, Mexico and the Bahamas...I'm not a total back woods hick, but none of those places stamps your passport)

We hop our shuttle and are delivered to our hotel:





Mom is there seated on the left with our many, many pieces of luggage.
Oh, and fun fact: "Catedral" in Barcelona is like "Peachtree" in Atlanta.  EVERYTHING has "Catedral" in its name.  Asking where the "Hotel Barcelona Catedral" is located is about as effective as asking someone (in a language that is not their native tongue) "Where's that place where your can rent a room?"  Not their fault that they can't answer you....because there's the Barcelona Hotel Catedral, the Catedral Barcelona Hotel, the Hotel Catedral Barcelona, the Barcelona Hotel on Catedral....
Or within a reasonable proximity (in our shuttle driver's opinion) to our hotel.  We were about 5 city blocks away when he kicked us off the shuttle and pointed in the general direction of the hotel.  All of our luggage was on wheels, so it was manageable...but we were dragging it along cobblestones, so it wasn't effortless.  I was pretty sweaty and gnarly when I got to our desitnation.
The hotel was lovely and the staff helpful...it was WAY early for check-in, but they stowed our bags for us and we headed out into the city...half a block later and:  


Ahhhhh, Sangria.  It was lovely and refreshing.  We took a minute to relax and strategize our next move:


Mother/Daughter Spanish selfie.  The Barcelona humdity (and resultant sweat) was not kind to my hair
And decided to try for the Picasso museum.  We had our tour book, and an app on my iPhone...we can do this...we're only a few blocks away.
Of course, by this time, neither of us has slept in approx. 30 hours.  We were easily distracted by all of the lovliness around us, but we weren't in a hurry.  We were following the street signs that matched the street names on our map.  Then we came to this:

What this indicated to ME was that you could go either route and get to the Picasso museum.  NOT THE CASE.  That, or we were more punch-drunk than I thought.  We passed this sign three times without seeing the Picasso museum....we were just going 'round in circles.  I still couldn't tell you how we got away from the gravitational pull of this corner that kept trying to draw us back in...we just started making turns into alleys at random until we noticed a line of people waiting outside a gothic palace-y looking place.  Pfft, whaddya know?  The Picasso museum.



Taken while waiting in line to get in the museum.  In my head I'm singing "He sees angels in the architechture...spinning in infinity, he says, "Amen! Hallelujah!" If you'll be my bodyguard....


Inside the courtyard of the museum.  It was gorgeous.
 
Apparently, the Picasso museum is sort of four palaces kind of hooked together.  The building itself was worth the visit.  And I really enjoyed most of the art displayed there.
Now, I'm getting ready to say something that's probably going to be very unpopular.  Before I do that, I want to say that I always thought I was a big ole Picasso fan.  One of my favorite works of all time is his Guernica.  I am not turned off by the somewhat weirdness of his Cubism or some of his other surreal works. (Guernica is not in the Barcelona museum...I'm just saying I've always loved it...I mean, doesn't it just SCREAM how awful the Nazi bombing of this villiage was?)

 
A story I always loved about this painting...it's said that once the Gestapo were in Picasso's apartment searching it & saw a photograph of Guernica and asked Picasso, "Did you do this?" and he (allegedly) replied, "No, you did."
That being said...I never realized that Picasso's art took a freaking sharp left turn into crazy-town....apparently in the year of 1903


What the actual Hell, Pablo?  I mean, seriously?  One minute, I'm strolling past The Portrait of Aunt Pepe, then I'm admiring the painting of his sister, Lola...then I turn into a room with THIS.  What the crap was WRONG with him?  This isn't art....this is a doodle that a junior high school perverted little pimple faced douche canoe would draw in study hall just to be vulgar.  I'm sure someone's gonna try to convince me that there's some sort of sublime artistic value in this...but sorry...this Alabama girl ain't buyin' that.  Pablo Picasso may have been some kind of revolutionary artist most of the time...but that crap also tells me he had some pretty sick shit swimmin around in that genius brain of his as well.  Sorry about that little side track.
Apart from the drawing of a FISH (A Mackrel, apparently...since that's the title of this "work") performing sex acts on a woman badly in need of some personal grooming, I enjoyed the visit to the museum.  (That room should have had some "Only 18 and over" sign on it or something.  My friend Meg had her daughter in Barcelona last month....I'm glad I wasn't trying to explain that hot mess to MY pre-schooler).

ANYWAY...we finished our couple/three hours in the museum and then made our way back to our hotel (only one or two wrong turns on the way back).  By then, we had a room, were able to freshen up and go out to dinner.  We ended up in a little tapas resturant right by the Barcelona Catedral.  

Selfie in front of the Barcelona Cathedral.  The contacts have come out...the hair...I'm not even sure what the heck is going on with that side cowlick thing...and of course, I've rubbed all my makeup off.  I am the epitomy of a weary traveler at this point.

It was fabulous!  They served us 4 different tapas, then a monk fish on black rice entree and finally a dessert plate with a sampling of three different desserts.




By this time, we'd been up about 36 hours and were ready to lay our little heads down.  Before we turned in, however, we took a dip into the pool on the rooftop of our hotel.  Here was our view:


I slept 10 straight hours.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Down the drain

Hi guys!  Yes, it has been awhile since I posted...
But that is because I have been on the most awesome vacation of all time.
My mother, who as of this moment is my very favorite Mom I ever had, took us (just us...no spouse, no child) on a cruise through the Mediterranean.  We were gone 10 whole days and were in 3 different countries.  We saw lots of stuff and had a chance to do some serious bonding.  Also?  I now have to find a way to finance my retirement in the French Riviera.
I am planning to write about this trip soon.  Right now?  I'm still in the throes of some serious jet lag.  I'm having a hard time stringing two sentences together and make any sense.
 
I also flushed one of my earrings down the toilet this afternoon:
 
 
See how the latch thingy is?  Well, the one on the other earring was a little worn.  I went to the bathroom and when I stood up and flipped the flusher gizmo, my earring fell out and Whoosh!  was gone.
I wish I could say that this was the first piece of jewelry I've lost to the porcelain god, but sadly, that is not the case.  (of course it's not...we're talking me here) A few years ago while trying desperately to get to New Orleans, I had a bracelet come off just as I was sitting down...but as I jumped up and spun around, the motion-sensor automatic flusher-mabob activated and Whoosh! there went my cute little silver bracelet.
Um...there should be some clever way for me to wrap this post up, but my body thinks that it's almost three in the morning right now and nothing's coming to me.
 
I'll have a more coherent post soon, I promise.