Sunday, July 27, 2014

Road trip

We just got back from a road trip.  My lovely, intelligent, beautiful kidlet was awarded a $3000 scholarship from an organization called the Southern Automotive Women's Forum.  They had their annual conference in Nashville, TN, where they presented her, and 26 other young women with scholarships ranging from $500 to $5000.
We had a great time, we were very grateful for the scholarship sponsor (Malace HR) and of course we were VERY proud of the kiddo.
So there we were...driving the 4 hours or so back home, basking in the success of our only offspring, when we decide to take a short break right at the Tennessee/Alabama line so that we could gas up and maybe pick up a lottery ticket.
You know the county line of a dry county, you will find it lined with liquor and beer stores so that folks living in the dry county can JUST cross the county line to purchase their devil's water?  
Oh.  You don't live in the Bible Belt and have no idea what a "dry" county is.  Well, a dry county is one where the sale and purchase of alcoholic beverages is still illegal.  Like it was in 1922.  Alabama still has over 20 dry counties.  No lie.
Apparently, compared to Alabama, Tennessee must just be a hot bed of hedonism.  Because right there at the border?  Not only do you have the sale of booze and lottery also have this:

All in one picture you have "Show Girls", the "Boobie Bungalow"
And a giant cannibalistic chicken with crazy eyes. (Notice the fork and knife).
I'm kinda wishing they sold postcards.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Na-na-na-na-na-na I say it's my birthday!

My Google this morning was this:

I'm not sure how I feel about this.  It's sort of like Google is stalking me a little.  Unless this is the Google screen for the world...then I'm like, "Whoa. How awesome is this?"  Of course, I'm sure this is more like how ads for egg plates are always showing up on the right side of my screen (I have an egg plate problem.  If you're new to the can go here or here for the background story) than it is that Google has decided my birthday deserves the attention of the whole internets. honor of my birthday, I'm recycling one of my very favorite posts...the one I wrote last year right around time for my birthday...

We all have that one thing...that one gift from our childhood that will forever stick with us.  Almost always that one gift is the thing that you had already resigned yourself to not getting.  That's what makes it so great.  Yes, you wanted it. No, you couldn't stop thinking (and talking) about it.  But you never thought in a million years that you'd actually get it.  Maybe it was impossible to find.  Maybe it was too expensive.  It was so out of reach, it really never entered your mind how disappointed you were going to be if you didn't get it, because you knew it was just not happening.
That "thing" for me?  Was the dress I got for my 6th birthday.

I WISH I had a less faded photograph of this dress because it was truly spectacular and this just doesn't do it justice.  It had a floral print for the main material, the accent material (ruffles and sash) was pink with white polka dots.  It was ankle length and long-sleeved, yet in a light weight material that I was never hot in.  I adored this dress.
Back in 1975, my little home town had a Hudson's department store.  It was something along the lines of a Belk's or a Dillard's.  More upscale than your Sears or JC Penney's, but not quite a Macy's or a Saks 5th Ave.  We occasionally bought stuff there (my mother was the queen of the clearance rack) but only on sale.  The biggest draw the store had, though, was that you could pay your utility bills at their customer service desk. So, once a month, minimum, we went to Hudson's to do just that.  And that's where I saw this was first out around when the Easter dresses when the put out on display.  I fell hopelessly and totally in love with it.  It cost about $80.  In 1975.  For a girl's dress.  I never even ASKED if we could buy it...I would only ask if I could try it on again EVERY TIME we were in Hudson's.  My mom was always very patient...I'd try it on and go stand in front of the dressing room's three paneled mirror.  I'd twirl...I'd swish the skirts...and then I'd go take it off and hang it up. Carefully.

My family was by no means poor.  We always had everything we needed and many of the things we wanted.  But this dress?  I just ran the numbers in the .gov CPI calculator.  This dress would cost $347.22 today.  And I was (almost) six.  I wasn't even particularly girly.  There are many more pictures of me holding frogs or hanging out of a tree than there are of me in a dress (until I got this one).  Plus, you can imagine how fast I was growing at that age.  It just didn't make any sense at all.  But somehow, some way, my family could detect what a pull this dress had on me.  It's the only thing I got from my family that Granny (whom I described here), my aunts/uncles/cousins...they all just gave money and my Mom got me the dress.  I didn't detect what was up, either.  There were enough wrapped packages at the party from the other little kidlets.  And honestly, I didn't even reach for the box until close to the end because anyone could see that it was a clothes box...and again, IT WAS NEVER IN MY HEAD that this dress could be in that box.  And, oh, My Sweet Lord, when I opened it!!!!  You could have knocked me over with a feather!  I can't even type about it now without a smile on my face.  OF COURSE, I rushed to change into it IMMEDIATELY...and had to have it peeled off of my protesting little 6 year old self at the end of the day.  I wore this dress exclusively to every single function and/or event where it was even remotely appropriate.  And I wore it until I wore it OUT.  I can actually see in my mind's eye my wrist sticking out of the sleeve by at least three inches while my mother insisted that I'd outgrown it.  I was a very skinny child, so it never got too small around, but by the time I finally parted with this wondrous dress, it was more or less shin-length, no longer ankle-length.
I still can't believe someone spent that kind of money on me at that age for an article of clothing, but I must say, I certainly got my money's worth out of it.  As I approach my 44th birthday on Monday, this dress still remains the most awesome birthday gift EVER.

While going through some closets, I found these pictures:

The date on the back of these pictures was a year later...and as I said earlier, you can clearly see that I have a good couple or three inches of skinny wrist sticking out from the sleeves.  What a freaking fantastic dress.
Also?  I haven't a damn clue why my birthday cake is an Easter bunny since it occurs in JULY, except that Mom's hobby back in the day was cake decorating and she must have gotten a bunny shaped cake pan that she was dying to use.

Monday, July 21, 2014

MacGyver for real

You know how I know it's Monday?  Because I got up this morning, dressed in my really cute new Palazzo pants and discovered I had the cutest pair of cork wedges that matched PERFECTLY that I had bought end-of-season somewhere for practically nothing, but seldom wore because they were such an unusual color.
I KNEW it was Monday, yet I let myself get all fashionista cocky and was actually ENJOYING the morning instead of reluctantly dragging my sorry self into work desperate for my second cup of coffee.  Thanks to the talented Jennifer N, I had a sassy new haircut: 

I know, I take the world's worst selfies...nice thumb, huh?

Thanks to zulily, I had my swanky new palazzo pants. (A quick word about palazzo pants...I don't know who brought these things into existence or who made them a "thing"...but whoever it is, I wish that I could kiss them on the mouth.  You can be wearing the latest "it" thing, and yet feel like you are in your pajamas at work.  Seriously, palazzo pants are what you put on when your yoga pants feel too consticting.  They are the fashion world's apology to women for corests, hoop skirts and bustles)
Thanks to Dillard's semi-annual bra sale, I had on supportive undergarments that weren't poking, prodding, pinching or going rogue. It wouldn't be the first Monday where I'd experienced such problems.
But this Monday?  I was well prepared to kick this Monday's ass.
Of course, I wasn't here an hour and this happened:

My discount, had-hardly-ever-been-worn cork wedges had a complete come-apart. (but please notice how PERFECTLY they matched my pants).
Now usually, I'd have a pair of sneakers or something here at case I feel like walking during my lunch or hitting the gym before going home (snort).  But we are going to be relocating our office soon to another building, so I've been taking unnecessary stuff home for the time being.  I was faced with a dilema: I could either try to MacGyver my cute orange shoes back into functionalilty or I'd be reduced to my only other option, my steel-toed construction boots that I wear in the plant:

Dag-nasty ugly, aren't they?  And if you can't tell, they are filthy.  Fine for when I'M filthy as well and working outside doing my outside engineering schtick...but when I'm planning an office day (like today) and I have on decent clothes, they would quickly and easily be ruined by these boots with a simple crossing of my legs.
MacGyver it is then.
First, I dug out my handy-dandy desk appropriate tool kit.

There's nothing too exotic in here...but it sure is nice to have in a pinch.  I have one at home, in the car and in my desk.  I got them out of some catalog a hundred years ago (back when we ordered things from catalogs) for $10 a set.  Well worth the money.  With the pliers and the flat-headed screw driver, I managed to get the strap tucked back where it belonged...tracked down some gorilla glue and quickly fashioned myself some clamps out of some binder clips:

Nice, even pressure across the whole strap while the glue set was essential.  Afterwards, I unclamped my shoe and gave the strap a little tug.  It held, but didn't seem sturdy enough to bear up under my kind of weight for several hours yet.  I decided I'd better resort to my old stand-by, the stapler:

The stapler has been my friend on many occassions. Step on your pant leg and rip your hem out?  Tuck that hem back up...set a couple of staples and you can finish out the work day without fear of going ass over teakettle down the stairs because your hem is dragging.  Discover that the seam has come undone on your blouse and you have a hole under your armpit? Get your stapler, go to the bathroom, take off your shirt, turn it inside, more hole and no one can tell.  Unfortunately, I could not get the stapler manuvered into the shoe where I needed it.
What to do, what to do?

A couple of low-profile, flat headed thumb tacks will do the job nicely, thank you very much.
And we can now return to our regularly scheduled program.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Letting go of the past

I hate spending money.  Well, I hate spending money on things that are not fun to buy.  Tires.  Washing machines. An oven. (The last oven we bought?  Was this double oven number with a smaller, pizza oven on the top and a regular sized oven on the bottom.  The stove top was the flat, black kind...not the coil type.  I was bitching about spending $700 on the stupid thing and my sister was all, "But it's a beautiful oven." No, no it's not.  There's no such thing as a beautiful oven.  It's an appliance.  It just is what it is. And $700 is a nice long weekend on the sugar sands of the Gulf Coast for me.  Stupid oven.)
I'm actually always pissed when I have to spend money on any type of appliance. (The exception, I guess, was when I bought my Dyson)  I don't even like buying small appliances like hair dryers.
See this?

That's a Vidal Sassoon hair dryer.  Most of the "Vidal Sassoon" has been rubbed off.  Also, the back thingy that held the mesh filter was lost long, long ago.  I operated this hair dryer entirely by feel because the Low, Medium and High settings were entirely gone.
This hair dryer and I have much shared history.  I used this hair dryer to fix my hair for my senior prom.  In 1987.  Do you guys remember how we used to stretch our bangs straight up, spray it with Aqua Net and then grab the hair dryer and turn it on full blast so that the hair was instantly shellaced in place?  Then you'd do the same thing to each side of your head so that it made "wings"?

I know, as far as 80s hair goes, I was pretty tame...but considering how VERY, VERY, VERY straight my hair is naturally?  You're looking a A LOT of spray and blow drying to get that much poof to it.
Anyway...despite the long history of togetherness with this blow wasn't nostalgia that had me hanging on to it.  It's my loathing of spending money on stuff that's no fun to spend money on.  I should have replaced this poor, suffering thing a long time ago, though.  I have been noticing for a while now, a scorch-y kind of smell when I used it.  I'd get my little cleaning brush out and scrub the lint out of the mesh (where a filter should actually be as well) and soldier on.
Last Thursday, during the middle of my morning grooming session, my hair dryer burst into flames.
THAT'LL wake you up in a hurry.  I quickly snatched the plug loose (nice job ground fault interrupter socket, you piece of crap) and flung the dryer down on the counter where it sparked and spat and smoked and fizzled for a few more minutes while I shut the door and turned the exhaust fan on before I set off the fire detector.  I'm lucky I didn't burn the house down or electrocute my fool self.

Meet my new blow dryer:

1. I don't know why "Ionic" is trademarked.  I always thought "Ionic" referred to a type of chemical bonding between two oppositely charged ions.  Did not know it was something that Revlon could trademark.
2. Tourmaline's a type of gemstone right?  I think they are trying to make this blow dryer way sexier than a blow dryer could ever hope to be.

It does have a folding handle and a retractable cord, which I dig.  I would have probably gone back with another Vidal Sassoon dryer (if they're still in the blow dryer business...I don't even know) but I tried this very blow dryer out when we went on our last girls trip and my friend B had this model.  I was really impressed by how quickly it got my hair dried (I've seen leaf blowers with less umph).  So I'm not TOO piqued that I had to part with the $19 to purchase my own.

Hopefully, this is the beginning of a long, lovely relationship.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Itsy bitsy

I have a dilema.  For the past couple of nights, I have noticed this:

Doorbell ringer gives you the proper perspective

Close up gives you my perspective.\

Update: I had a two second video here of the spider wrapping this bug...but it was poorly lit and was over before you could really tell what you were looking at, so I removed it.  If I get a better clip, I'll stick it back in here.
I have mentioned before that I read outside on my front stoop.  I have encountered all sorts of wildlife out there, from possums to toads and all things in between.  Well, Charlotte, here, is positioned RIGHT ABOVE my normal squat.
When I sit down to read, she (he, it?) is directly over my head.
Now, while I appreciate the general debugging going on...I DO NOT appreciate spider bites. (One time, I was sitting outside reading in some very baggy shorts...I came in to go to the bathroom and felt something wriggling....I smacked it right as I felt it CHOMP my booty.  A big ole nasty curled up dead spider fell out and I had an enormous piece of my ass missing.  Okay, maybe a had a big red welt that took 3 days to go down, same difference).
I am kind of fascinated by the whole circle of life thing I'm getting to witness (about every 5 freaking minutes...Alabama sees a LOT of bug activity after dark this time of year).  And Charlotte is all like "Wa-pow!  How do you like your new silk suit, Mr. Annoying Beetle?  That'll teach you to buzz around and try to get in someone's wine glass!"
...But I keep glancing up about every 30 seconds to make sure this spider hasn't dropped down into my hair.

I'm trying to be one with nature and all that shit (and again...the spider's doing her job of catching all sorts of annoying bugs just as fast as she can) but I had to resist the urge many, many times last night to squash her with my flip flop.

You guys have any ideas about what I'm dealing with here? (if this thing is poisonous, I don't care how much I'm interrupting the food chain, that arachnid is toast)  Do I try to move her?  Do I move (I'm not really wanting to do that, I'm a little anal retentive about my spot on the front porch....I have to have my little area JUUUUST right).

I'd appreciate the input.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Frog and toad are friends

I like to read. I like to read where it is QUIET. In my house containing a husband who likes to leave the TV on for "background noise", a daughter (and usually friends), four cats and three dogs, quiet usually means I go sit outside on my front stoop. I live in Alabama. So right now, my front stoop usually minimum 85 degrees and 85% humidity.
Thank God for Frog Toggs.

Frogg Toggs Chilly Pads are da bomb. They are made of some super-secret material imported from aliens (I assume) and it keeps you wonderfully cool. Once it warms up a little? Flip it over and it's like getting the cool side of the pillow...over and over again. These things are amazing.  So anyway... I come outside with my Kindle and my Frog Togg to read.
For the past couple of nights, I've had a visitor.

This is Toad. He just hops up here (from where? I have no idea) and he sits looking at me while I read. 
A couple of nights ago, I swatted a beetle (damn June bugs are EVERYWHERE) and he landed by toad and...slurp...he was gone.
It's now become a ritual...
Toad comes up here...I send a couple (or eight) pesky bugs his way. It's a happy (well, not for the beetles) little arrangement.
Am I weird?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Life Lessons

As my only child prepares to leave the nest, I've been reflecting on my raising of her...the lessons I tried to teach and the values I tried to instill.
I remember once, when she was about 4 years old, we had gone shopping at Toys R Us (are any of those still open, BTW?)  At the time, Daughter was VERY into Polly Pockets.  She had about eleventy thousand of them. (We bequeathed them to my friend Lauren, whose child is about 7 or 8 years younger than mine):

(picture Lauren sent me the day after we gave her kiddo the box of Pollys. I don't think she's ever really forgiven me for it.  This was over 5 years ago and I bet she still occasionally sucks up pieces while vacuuming)
So anyway...back to the "lesson."  Daughter had some of her very own money to spend.  She'd gotten it for losing a tooth or something.  I think it was about $10.  We went to TRU and headed back to the Polly Pocket section.  They had several little sets...some of them were on clearance.  The clearance sets were $7.75.  The not-clearance sets were $12.95.  Of course, she immediately fell in love with a not-clearance set.  I knelt down to her level and calmly and lovingly told her that she did not have enough money to buy that one.  But if she wanted to help me out with some chores the following week, I'd give her $5 and we could come back and get it...or she could choose one of the sets that she could afford.  Of course, neither of those options suited her at all.
Her big ole hazel eyes looked up at me pleadingly...and she said in her sweetest, most angelic voice, "But PLEASE, mommy!" Then she batted her eyes and flashed me her dimples.  And of course, I wanted to give her what would make her happy...but I recognized this as a MOMENT...and that I should make a life lesson out of it.  I told her, "Now, baby, you have to realize that looking cute isn't going to always get you what you want."  Now, I know that I'm her mother, and you probably think I'm biased...but at four years old, my daughter may well have been the absolute cutest thing alive on the planet.  Don't believe me?

(And she's not even TRYING to be cute in this can't even see her dimples.)

After a few more minutes of discussion (to give her credit, kiddo would do a little begging, but she was never one to throw an outright fit), I told her I had some more things to that age, you have to keep a stock of boy and girl gifts because it seems like there's a birthday party every other weekend.  She came willingly with me...clutching the two different Polly Pocket sets: the one she WANTED, and the one that would do.
I finished what else I had to do and we headed for the cash register.  I checked out and paid for my purchase.  The kiddo pulled her $10 bill out of her pocket, and put the two sets on the conveyor belt.  She told the clerk, "I really want to buy the first one, but this is all the money I have.  I wanted to ask you to check and make sure it isn't supposed to be on sale too." (She didn't just look cute...she was quite the charmer too.)  The cashier scanned the toy and $12.95 appeared on the screen.  Kiddo's face just turned sad and she let out a gusty sigh...and began reaching for the runner-up toy.  The sales lady, taking all of this in (and I am sure that the lack of a sudden outburst played well into my daughter's favor) said, "Well, hold on.  You know sweetie, I think you're right and that both of these toys are supposed to be on sale."  She scanned the cheaper toy, bagged the $12.95 toy and handed it to my daughter.
I got us back out to the car, loaded my bags and buckled her up in her toddler seat in the back.  As I was pulling out of the parking lot and into traffic, she was already back there tearing into her new acquisition.  And I VERY clearly heard her say to herself, "Cute may not always get you what you want.  But it did today."