Monday, August 29, 2011

The Flaming Grocery Bag

I think at this point we have established that ofttimes I find myself in situations other people just don't encounter . . . and so it was Saturday.

I found myself alone at the grocery store.  I have sort of mixed feelings about this.  When we go as a family it takes a long time.  If I go alone, I risk hearing, "What did you get that is good?"  Well, this Saturday I was enjoying my time in the grocery store.  I was texting friends and studying olives.  It was quiet and lovely.

I got home and set my reuseable shopping bag on top of my flat top stove.  Do we see where this is going?  I went back to my texting conversation until I smelled something hot.  I looked up and saw that my groceries were on fire because someone had knocked the burner on.

Now . . . instead of calmly grabbing the fire extinguisher, I grabbed the hot bag intending to throw it in the sink.  Alas, the bottom had burned through the bag sending melted groceries and bits of flaming hot bag to the floor.  I ran to open the doors and windows and when I came back into the kitchen I stepped on a piece of melting reusable shopping bag.

Now. . . instead of calmly calling my husband  and explaining how my foot was on fire, I did this, "BRENT! BRENT! BRENT! BRENT!" And I sort of held up my foot.

Now . . . my husband is a thinker.  It's one of the many things I love about him.  He doesn't leap into things which provides the stability our relationship needs when I want to jump in head first.  Alas, it took him a moment to assess the situation and analyze the options.  I felt it took too long.  I want him to grab my foot and stick it under the kitchen tap . . . but . . . well . . . that was the eventual choice he made.

This all took seconds, mind you.

At any rate, all turned out all right.  Everything cleaned up just fine.  I have a blister shaped like Delaware on the bottom of my foot and I fear by the time it heals flip flop season will be over BUT -- really -- this all could have been so much worse.  I (or the house) could have gotten really burned AND Chuck Taylors go with everything.  Who needs flip flops?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Into Every Trip, a Little Rain

Now normally, where ever we go, that's where the party is, but on the third day of our four day weekend, we had a bad day.  I don't mean "oops" they were out of cinnamon rolls at the continental breakfast, I mean nothing went right for any of us from the moment we got up.

The first thing I did was spill orange juice down the front of myself and had to change completely.  Not Preschooler D -- me.  Then we hit the road for Deadwood.  Now besides being a summer retreat for Kevin Costner, Deadwood is home to site of the shooting of Wild Bill Hickok.  I remember visiting there as a child and oohing and ahhing the story of Wild Bill buying the farm while he played cards.  The boys were going to love this, thought I.

Wrong.  Couldn't have been wronger.  They didn't even want to get out of the car much less trudge straight uphill to visit a grave in a cemetery.  They were promised lunch and away we went whining all the way.

After paying our respects we set off to find lunch.

Deadwood, as you may or may not know, has legalized gambling.  A lovely thing, perhaps, if you and your spouse are driving through Deadwood in your convertible on a summer retirement tour of the Western states.  It is a miserable thing if you are trying to feed a teenager and a preschooler because Deadwood is full of gambling, bars, shooting reenactments and Kevin Costner movie memorabilia, but not much else.  After wandering around for a while we finally found a place to sit outdoors and eat a hamburger.

Brent's had mushrooms.

Now normally, this wouldn't be a problem but somewhere along the four hour drive in the middle of nowhere to our next stop those mushrooms turned on my poor husband.  Somewhere out in the middle of nowhere.  It was probably the longest 30 minutes of my life as I tried to decide if I should pull over and let the ambulance find us or keep driving until I reached the hospital.

Fortunately I didn't have to do either one.  He recovered admirably and was even able to come along to our last stop of the trip, the Medora Musical.  I like the Medora Musical.  It's fun.  There's singing.  There's dancing. There's steak on a pitchfork.  It's good, clean fun.  It's outside.  You park on a grassy hill.  A grassy hill where they have used sharp, pointy rocks to outline the parking area.  And you back in.  Back in to the sharp, pointy rocks.  With your BRAND NEW AUTOMOBILE.

I was so mad, I could not speak.  Poor Brent, still recovering from his mushrooms, dragged me and the boys down to the amphitheatre while he whispered encouraging things about insurance.  I could not speak.  I could not cry.  I just marched along.

Then my husband of 17+ years, my husband who knows me so well, spotted a pink cowboy hat for sale with a shiny crown attached.  He knew, no matter how long that day had been, I could not resist a shiny pink cowboy hat.

And, indeed, I could not.  Sitting there for the second half of the musical, hat on my head, boys at my side I thought, "How lucky can a girl get?"

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

An Old Tortoise and Dead Presidents

Well, now I can tell you, we went to see these guys.

Now, you just go ahead and be as cynical and jaded as you like, but some guy took the time to figure out how to carve the likeness of presidents into the side of the mountain.  Here D and I are getting a closer look.

They're just big.  Some guys hung themselves from the side of this cliff and carved out the presidents.

Another highlight of the trip for me was visiting the tortoises at Reptile Gardens.  When I was D's age, you could ride them.  They don't allow that today. Why must the fun be stripped out of every animal event?  (See our trip to the circus.)

You know I'm kidding, right?  Although, D immediately saw how a guy could ride it if he wanted.  He was getting ready to saddle up when Brent and I peeled him off before the tortoise guard noticed.

I think the tortoise remembered me.

A Poem for Tuesday on Wednesday

Here's a quick poem on butterflies many of whom met an untimely end on the front of my car last weekend. Aw!

An Explanation
Arthur Wallace Peach

I often think a butterfly
With golden, shining wings
Most beautiful of all the earth's
Wee flying things.

Sometimes I fancy that he is
A sunbeam sailing round
Flitting here and there so still
He makes no sound.

And once I guess how he is made:
Upon his wings I saw
A diagram in black such as
Someone might draw.

It looked as if whoever drew
The lines had been in doubt,
And then was pleased, and so forgot
To run them out!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Summer's Slipping Away!

Hey gang -- for safety's sake, of course, I cannot tell you that I am packing up the boys for a last minute trip to see snakes and an old tortoise friend of mine.  Just remember, the only thing worth stealing is my car -- which I will be driving -- so it's not worth it.

See you next week, my friend!

Friday, August 12, 2011

True Confession Friday

I tried listening to country music this week.

It's not that bad.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


The first thing we saw at the circus was a pony ride.

"Would you like to ride on the ponies?" I asked Preschooler D.

"No," said D sadly.  "They will go too fast."

"No, they won't.  Just watch,"  I said, and the ponies started walking in their little circle.  D jumped about two feet straight in the air.

"They are going SLOW!!" he cried out.

"Do you want to ride a pony?"


This isn't the best picture I took of a boy and his pony, but it's the one that best captures how that kid beamed.  He thought he invented pony riding.  It was the look of a kid who thought he couldn't do something because he would be too afraid and then he discovered he could.

When he got done we headed through the tent doors and D said, "This. Circus. Is. AWESOME!"

And I'd have to say we certainly got our $12/per worth.  We saw:

Tight rope walkers
Trained dogs
Trained ponies
Trained llamas
A bicycle act
A loud obnoxious ring master
A contortionist
Trapeze artists
A double ring walker act that made my jaded teenager say "Wow!" softly under his breath so no one would hear and think he was having a good time. (Kudos to him for coming along with me and D and GrandMary in the first place.)

And, of course, the elephants.  One of the websites I regretted looking at yesterday said, "Go if you must . . ." but be sure and study the scarring on the elephants legs from their daily abuse.  I looked and all I saw were elephant legs.   Here they are giving a family a ride.  You can look for yourself:

Now, I will grant you that the keeper-guy looks like he could beat an elephant if it looked at him crossly, but I did not observe any such thing.  He's got that stick thing, but it's not like you're going to put an elephant on a leash.  I'm just going to assume this circus learned its lesson about being nice to elephants.  We can discuss later if it's appropriate for elephants to be in the circus at all.

I would have liked a ride on an elephant, but Teenager looked at me as though he would sink through the earth if I did.  Here they are in the tent:

Mother said she saw a tear rolling down the cheek of one as it wrote "Help me" in the hay in its pen.  I didn't see that, and she tends to exaggerate.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Circus Preview

We walked over to the fairgrounds to watch the traveling circus put up the tent.  I had a vision of a happy band of traveling gypsies* coaching a large elephant to heave the heavy tent pole.

Um, no.  It was a bunch of guys in hard hats with walkie talkies.  Disillusioning for me, but probably better for the elephant. And here's where I made mistake number two today, I Googled my local traveling circus.  If you're planning on going to your local circus, don't do that.  Just don't.  You don't want to know.  It's not very often that I advertise ignorance as bliss.  I am usually all about honesty and truth and being set free and all that, but . . .

But it's summer and I have a four-year-old and there's a circus -- literally -- in my backyard.  I do not need to know what kind of horrid thing a sicko trainer did to an elephant 10+ years ago.  I just need to go to the circus.

I know.  I know, but we have to pick our battles.  Our world is full of bad, nasty people doing bad, nasty things.  But there are also good people just trying to make their living by swinging on the trapeze. And there are four-year-old who need to have a wide variety of experiences.

I love elephants, and you know I am a friend to animals.  Why think of my devotion to our beloved dog Fritz T. (Now, hush, faithful readers!  The new people can hear you laughing.)  I will keep my eyes open and give you an honest report of how it went.

* I mean no insult to the Romani.  I use this word to mean "people who travel."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Poem for Tuesday

I need to weed my front flower bed.  There are several trees growing in there.  Wish I'd thought of this.

Grandpa's Garden
Sarah Grames Clark

My grandpa has a garden
That never wilts of fades,
Although he never plows it up
Or waters it, or spades.

He never worries if it storms,
Or fears the hottest sun;
And yet his garden's filled with plants,
And he loves each one!

He'll say to me, "Come take a look,
Now aren't these pansies sweet!
Oh, see this lovely hyacinth --
And here's a marguerite!"

My grandpa's very feeble,
For he's past eighty-nine
And yet his lovely garden
Is always in its prime.

Yes, Grandpa has a garden
Without scarecrow, fence or dog;
And, all in lovely colors,
Keeps it in his catalog!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Long Awaited Toe

It looks creepy in extreme close up like this.  It was very cute.  I hope you're viewing because you are interested in festival pedicures, not because you're interested in . . . well . . . toes.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Water Clean Up

Yesterday we were really excited to see the city crews coming down the block.  They took the tree off Neighbor Dale's car and hauled it away.

Neighbor Dale is still shaking his head that the tree hit his new car and not his old pickup parked right behind it.  He's also not sure how the back window didn't break.  (I guess it's a really safe car.)  He did say, though, that he's very grateful he wasn't sitting in it at the time.

This is just one load from this block.  There were several from Dale's tree mess.  It was a big, old ash tree.

The guys on the crew said if we shoved our debris out into the street, they would pick it up.  It was a rush of neighbors helping each other rake stuff into the street.  By the time I got over to photograph it, they were done.

I've said if before and I'll say it again.  Our city crew has the nicest, hardest-working guys (because they are all guys) around.  Gigi, my grandmother, does the gardens in one of the parks and they rig up a system so she can water.  They make the town look clean and nice before our big festival, and the next day they are on the move to get things cleaned up.  They flood a skating rink in the winter.  Often in the winter we wake up at 5 am or earlier to the sound of the snowplows going past.  They probably do hundreds of things we never notice because they do it so well.  Picking up our debris yesterday saved us and the neighbors many hours of work.  It's one of many reasons why I am so fond of my little community.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Water, Water Everywhere II

Hey, everyone!  I know you are anxious for my polish update. We'll look at it tomorrow.  Yesterday just as we were waking up the tornado sirens went off.  The storm sounded pretty serious, and so we got up and went right away.  The power went out almost as soon as we got there.  We sat in the messy and slightly damp basement on the stairs in the dark.  We heard lots of booming and crashing.  There wasn't a tornado in town, but there were very powerful winds.  When we came out of the basement, this was what the swing set looked like:

Not good.  Not good for the swing set.  Not good for the pear tree, but over the course of the day we discovered that we were very fortunate.  Here's my next door neighbor's brand new car:

Do you see how the tree came out by the roots? The ground is so saturated with water that the trees are just falling over during these big storms.  There are -- I'm not exaggerating -- hundreds (some are saying a thousand) of trees down in West Lake Woebegone.  Here my cousin Jenny and I are doing a Lewis and Clark photo shoot by the park. (Because we are silly that way.) You can see another example of how these big, healthy trees just crashed over:

I didn't take any more photos because it seemed sort of morbid to me.  I'll leave that to my dad, the journalist. People were driving by all day to take pictures of Neighbor Dale's car.  I wish I'd put a donation bucket out for him.