Tuesday, September 30, 2008

rough draft for future posts

I am tired but have much to say soon:

  • computer died
  • new computer
  • have i lost all my pictures?
  • bedroom mural thing
  • finishing at THE HOUSE
  • met Miss September 1980
  • are 90° days over?
  • why I love October
  • no San Diego
  • Thanksgiving trip
  • Carol Burnett

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Year We Were "Poor"

We were very middle class growing up, but for some reason, we were poor in 1969. I remember some arguments between my parents about a loan to a man named Harold. My Dad always lent money to people. (It was ironic that after he died, we had to run an ad in the paper asking if he owed anyone money as part of the estate settlement. We laughed knowing there were probably 100 people that owed Dad money, not the other way around.) But I guess that year he made some sort of stupid loan that really strapped my parents for cash. I had a downscaled birthday, but I'll always remember it as one of my favorites. That box we are all excited about (in the picture above) was full of coloring books and puzzle books and other crafty type things and I remember thinking it was the best gift ever. That's me in the stripes and my brother in his little league uniform on the right.
That summer we were told that we could not afford our normal beach vacation trip. Instead, Dad opted for us to spend a week at the local Holiday Inn. It was the week of July 12-19, so we had a good TV to watch the moon landing. I have great memories of sitting on the floor in the hotel room watching the moon landing and the days spent swimming in the pool. My cousin had been teaching me to dive so I was really working on that and constantly irking my parents going, "Look! Look!" for every dive attempt.
That Christmas we were given a long talk about Santa Claus and how when he gave a kid a "special" present, he could not give them a lot of gifts. My brother and I really needed new bikes. We both got a new bike and one other gift. I got a doll and he got a football. It was a little odd just getting two things, but it made our bikes seem very special. I got a purple "L'il Chic" and my brother got a bright yellow "Lemon Peel." Both were the new Schwinn banana bikes with the long seat and the high curved handlebars. When our friends seemed confused about our only getting two things, we explained that it was because our bikes were very special. Hey, we believed it!
Everything went back to normal after that. In fact, in 1970, I had a big special birthday party at the fire station and we moved to a larger house. And I believe that's the Christmas I finally got all the Barbie stuff I wanted. But it's odd to me that the year we were "poor" seems far more memorable and fun.

Friday, September 26, 2008

About the Comments

Through the years I've read many posts about what I'm going to post about, but I hope that mine is more a reflection on me and what I'm about. This post is about you readers that read but don't comment. ( Hi! ) Usually bloggers say friendly stuff like "Hey' Ya'll! Don't be afraid to comment!" or something like that. But I understand that there are reasons not to comment.


I read some blogs that I don't comment on and here are the reasons:

1. - I prefer to comment on blogs that the blogger responds to the comment, so if a blogger does not respond to comments, I don't leave a comment. Well, except for Naomi. (There's always an exception to every rule.)

2. - I read a few blogs that the blogger is so very out there to me that I feel like I don't have anything to say to them except: "What's wrong with you!??!" or "Gross! Who does that!!!!???" And that's not a good idea and I honestly don't even know why I read those blogs. (Seriously. What's wrong with me?)

3. - Some blogs are just so big and popular that it seems pointless to leave a comment. I only read one of those.

4. - Sometimes I don't post a comment on a blog that I am a regular commenter on because the subject matter is out of my reach or basically, I feel like I have nothing to contribute.

5. - If someone has a lot of photography posts I feel goofy saying "Nice picture!" over and over again. I am not qualified to remark on how they captured the light or anything. To me they are just nice pictures.


So to my readers that don't comment, I know it can't be for reasons 1, 3, or 5. I don't think #4 could be it, so I guess you find me terribly annoying (#2). Or maybe it's not about me at all. Maybe you're just shy. If you want to pipe in, please do. I love opinions.

And to you fellow bloggers that leave comments on a regular basis: Thanks! Every comment is like finding money in a coat pocket that you forgot about.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

When Vanity Trumped Common Sense

Last May, I had a seemingly minor dilemma: haircut or not? I have naturally curly hair that is sort of like a woolen blanket as far as physical properties go. I usually make a point to have my hair long enough to wear up in the summer. Well, last May I had two June vacations coming up where I would be meeting new people and seeing old friends and I decided after much thought to go with a nice new short cut. Worst. Decision. Ever. Here I was in the 5th hottest summer on record with no way to keep my hair off my neck. My woolen blanket of hair.
Today I got a nice new haircut. My first since May. I had been trimming my bangs and cutting the sides some, and had found a way to wear it up around mid-August. So it was always up after that and looked fine. But down? It was a mullet. Today I explained all of this to Tyler and said, "Cut out the mullet and style it in such a manner that I can go a year without a haircut." May is 8 months from now and hair supposedly grows 1/2 inch per month, so my hair will be 4 inches longer in May. 4 1/2 inches longer in June. 5 in July. Sounds like a ponytail to me.
I learned a hard lesson and if I ever have another decision to make regarding comfort and vanity, I will try to remember this. At least I hope I will. I should, right?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Just Stuff, But It's Okay, I'm a Blogger

(accent wall featuring Vern Yip on TV!)

Saturday I painted the wall. That corner of the doorway leading to the entryway (from the corner of the arch to the ceiling) had a terrible crack that I patched and I love how it looks great in this picture. At night though, with lamps on, you can tell it's been patched. Oh well. I left the nails in the wall for those three pictures. I took those pictures of my daughter in 1990 or 1991. It was my final exam in photography and we could choose any aspect of what we had learned and I chose "lighting." The irony is that the film was horrible. My lighting was all extreme and I really was doing burning and dodging like mad. I guess I didn't learn too much about lighting, but man did I learn about burning and dodging. Also, when I hung those pictures seven years ago, I was not on my current crazy medication and was having an irrational fear that when I drove in the nail for that middle picture, I would strike an electrical wire and fly across the room. As you can see that middle picture is directly above the outlet. That was not a good day.

(Could that t-shirt be any more honest?)

I forgot to take a "before" picture of the wall, but I took this picture of my daughter on the 12th so you can see that it was just a plain whitish wall and that the photographs almost blend in. I like the way the pictures really "POP" now. Oh, and I got an "A" on my photography. I think it was the yawning picture there that suckered the teacher in. My daughter was 6 or 7 at the time and was not having fun sitting in that chair for almost two hours. I caught all sorts of expressions and just happened to catch that yawn.


We went to visit my in-laws today. My MIL turned 62 on Friday. She's only 14 1/2 years older than me and I am 2 years older than her baby brother. My Mom will be 70 in November. Where does the time go? It was funny talking to my FIL. He said he found my post on his snake story and that I "did a really great job" making it better. I was all "WHAT?!? Dude, I just copied and pasted it from your blog." For some reason he thought it was better than he had written it. I don't know why that is still making me laugh. I mean, Froggy wrote it, I copied and pasted it and he thought it was better. I guess he forgot what a good writer he was. I want to do another one of his stories on here about when he was hanging out with the original Apollo astronauts. He's had a very interesting life.


I was really on a roll there for a while taking pictures of everything and always thinking in blog mode. Then I just suddenly fell out of "take a picture!" mode. I don't know what happened, but after I noticed it, I got better about remembering to take a picture. Here is one I grabbed at Michael's (a craft store).

It was a magazine on a rack in the check-out line and I was mesmerized by the line "Sculpting Vampire Dust Bunnies." I pulled out my camera and snapped the shot and then looked around at the people in line with me and loudly proclaimed, "It's okay, I'm a blogger."


My friend Carole found a pic of the Vampire Dust Bunny on the internet:

And VioletSky, that does look like cat hair! (Thanks Carole!)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Airplane Tragedy

(Photo From Wikipedia)

Travis Barker, formerly of Blink-182 and MTV's "Meet the Barkers" has been critically injured along with DJ AM in a Learjet plane crash in South Carolina. The other passenngers and crew were killed.

My Sweetie got to meet Travis Barker on the 9th as part of his business trip and had his picture taken with him. My Sweetie had told me "He was all covered in tattoos, but he was a very nice soft-spoken guy." (He also met Ozzie Osbourne on that trip and described him as "very shy until he got onstage.")

Travis's plane crashed upon take-off last night in South Carolina and he and DJ AM are in the Joseph Still Burn Center in Augusta, Georgia. That's really sad.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Didn't Feel Like Thursday

You know how most days of the week have a certain feel to them? Today was really off. I think most people get a "day shift" on three day weekends or when some other random thing is going on. Like if you took Friday off, then Saturday may feel like Sunday. Or if you have a Monday off, then Monday felt like Sunday and Tuesday felt like Monday. Well today (Thursday) felt like Saturday. I've never shifted two whole days before. I have no idea why it felt like Saturday except maybe because I was doing Saturday things. My weekdays are not particularly regimented or anything except for washing the sheets on Mondays and doing MOW on Wednesdays, but I guess I must have a sort of regular cycle of things that I do. On Saturdays I usually do different and unusual things. And that's what I did today I guess. I don't know, it just felt like Saturday all day.
If you've been around long enough you may remember the hot water leak from last November. One of the after effects of that leak was a big crack over the corner of the large doorway between the entryway and the living room. It was bugging the hell out of My Sweetie, so I decided to patch it. I like to do all my own painting, but our living room has cathedral ceilings and I have "fear of falling." (A lot of people confuse this with fear of heights, but they are different things.) Well the wall with the crack is a regular height wall and I have always wanted to have an accent wall anyway, so I decided to take the plunge.
I have patched and primed the crack but have to pick out a paint color. I'm looking for a warm honey-colored brown. Or golden brown or "I'll know it when I see it" brown. I'm going to get chips on Saturday because the paint can't clash with that giant honking credenza that was Mom's. I will have pictures when it is all done and I hope that will be real quick like. Maybe by Monday it will be finished.
I looked at my x-ray films today. It was weird studying my spine and internal organs. And I think I saw my liver and it wasn't huge and angry-looking which is how I had imagined it. The weird thing was I had only seen this picture (that I had posted below), so it sort of freaked me out when I saw my own kidneys. The kidneys that belong to anonymous internet picture person are on the same level. My right kidney is about 2 or so inches below my left one. What's that all about? I always said I was off-balance but that was really odd looking.
I think this weather has given me a lot of energy. Seriously, I'm the anti-reptile. Reptiles can hardly move once they get cold and I can hardly move when I get too hot. These days of 84° have been like a crazy vitamin boost. I'm wondering what I will get done tomorrow. And I wonder what day it will feel like. Maybe I'll have another Saturday.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I Thought So

David Finfrock, one of our local weather peoples, said tonight that this summer was our 5th hottest on record with 30 days of 100°+ temperatures. That's what I heard anyway. When I looked just now to check the facts: nothing. And that channel has a website. What's the point of their website if they are not going to have the stuff they said on there? So I googled "5th hottest summer DFW" and again, nothing. I demand instant gratification! Or maybe the heat has fried my brain.

By the way, the last two days have been 6° to 7° BELOW average. I even wore long pants both days. I know! I usually never wear long pants this early. I even wore tennis shoes today, but that was mostly because Barney accidentally sliced the top of my foot last night and I knew my sandals would irritate it even with a bandage. But it all worked out fine and when I went to the one MOW lady's house and her poodle jumped up on my legs, I said, "Ha! Ha! I'm wearing long pants. You can't scratch my legs today." I probably ruined his day.

I still haven't looked at my x-ray films. I will look at them tomorrow (later today I mean). It will be weird to look at my "innards." (That's a southern expression that I had to explain to a Cuban lady today.) My x-ray technician lady was very serious and did not even crack a smile the whole hour we were together. I liked the ultra-sound lady a million times better. She was fun. And I feel sorry for the ultra-sound lady because she has to work with dour x-ray tech lady. She had trouble getting a good vein but she poked "only" two holes in me. I had to stop her from trying my other arm that she had already tied up once and told her to do the back of my hand. I actually have a few small bruises from all the tourniquets. But I do bruise easily.

I couldn't believe how many pictures she took. That seems like a lot of radiation. I don't think I'll let anyone x-ray my torso again for 5 years. It would have to be something serious like if I swallowed a 3000 year old Spanish dubloon or something. I'll try not to do that in the next 5 years. The procedure is the radiologist looks at the film and sends a report to my doctor within 48 hours and if there is something, my doctor will call me. Otherwise, I just take the films with me when I go back on October 1st.

It seems to me that if there was something really wrong, the radiologist would have contacted my doctor right away and my doctor would have contacted me today (Wednesday, I mean). So I suspect I had all this anxiety, had to get up early, had to get TWO holes poked in me AND spent $83 for nothing.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I am so not looking forward to this thing tomorrow (today actually). I've decided to take my "Dentist Buddy" to squeeze while they slide the needle into my arm. My daughter stopped by Friday night and when I told her all about it, she said, "Well, aren't you allergic to iodine?" I said, "No, Mom always put it on my scrapes when I was a kid." and then she reminded me of the occassional eye lumps I get after eating shrimp. I don't get them every time I eat shrimp. Maybe once every 4 or 5 years, but a doctor did tell me it was from shrimp with a high iodine content. I imagine there is more iodine in iodine being pumped into your veins than there is in a serving of shrimp. The receptionist at the doctor's office had asked me if I "was allergic to IVP fluid." That's all she said. She may as well asked if I were allergic to moon rocks. I said, "I have no idea." It wasn't until I got home and googled the whole thing that I found out it was iodine and even then I thought nothing of it until my daughter said something. So I called the doctor's office.
They called in a prescription for me for prednisone because I can't take benadryl. I ran over to get it today and there was a CAB in front of me in the drive-thru. They may not seem like anything to you big-city dwellers, but cabs are very rare around here unless they are airport related or you are staying in a fancy hotel. It was really a rare sight to see one in the CVS line. So I took a picture:

Apparently the cabbie saw me take the picture because when they drove away, someone in the back seat waved to me. Those things on my hood are crape myrtle florets. They go everywhere with me. There will probable be some somewhere on my truck when I pull into the place tomorrow. As will my "dentist buddy." He always helps.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Not for the Squeamish

Tuesday morning I have to have an IVP. And yes the IV in IVP stands for IV. I do not like IVs. I do not like them in my arm, I will not eat green eggs and ham. I'd say getting an IV is my second, okay third, least favorite medical thing to have done to me. As you know, root canal is my least favorite:
  1. root canal
  2. bone reset
  3. IV
  4. mouth shots
  5. dental filling
  6. shot in an open wound
  7. blood withdrawal
  8. cauterization
  9. uterine biopsy
  10. wart freezing

And yes, I've had all of that done to me by horrible people that charge a lot of money. Evil, evil geniuses. And if you happen to be one of the "lucky" ones that have had a bone reset and a root canal, you might remember the bone resetting as being more painful. Well, okay it was, but this list is not just based on pain. The bone resetting while hideous and gruesome takes less than a minute. That doctor grabs your limb ends and yanks them apart, twists and puts them where he wants them in less than a minute. Probably less than half a minute. Yes, we scream or pass out, but then it's done! Just like that. A root canal? That lasts FOREVER.

My list is not based on pain alone, but also ickiness, hideousness, woozies, time, inconvenience (doesn't a root canal require like 3 visits what with the crown fittings and whatnot?), anguish, recovery and probably other things that I can't think of right now. Same thing about the shot in an open wound. It's pretty hideous and painful, but it's quick. A dental filling takes forever and the dental filling has the mouth shots to boot. That's two horrible things together. And recovery from mouth things? It sucks. And you have to eat. I broke my arm twice and figured out how to live without my arm for a while (the funniest was shaving my underarm - just try doing it with the same hand!), but you have to eat.

If you were a guy you might think catheterization is worse than some of those and it probably is for a guy, but that would probably be far down on my list after cortisone shot in my thumb, enema, and hospital food. It's funny but I've always said I'd rather go to the gynecologist than the dentist and if you look at my list, you'll notice pelvic exam isn't even on it.

Well back to my IVP on Tuesday. The link there says you have to take a mild laxative, but they just told me not to eat solid food on Monday. The list said I could have soups, pudding, jello and something else, which I remember as "beer."

Friday, September 12, 2008

Woot! Woot! The End Is Near!

Yesterday (Wednesday, I mean) Ike was supposed to meet me at The House to load up the last of the big furniture to take to an auction house. I got there at 2:20, called and got his voice mail and said something like, "I'm here! Hope to see you soon." Then I waited an hour. I did get some stuff done. I cleared all the pathways for the moving and took the trash container to the curb. When I called back at 3:20 to leave a message to reschedule, he answered. He said, "I'll be right over!" I said, "Too late, they close at 4:00." He asked why I had not called and I told him I had. Anyway I was glad to get home earlier to be there to greet My Sweetie back from his trip, so we decided to do it today. I was a little late today but he pulled up right behind me. That's Ike on the right behind the truck with the rope and his friend on the left. That's my little trucky over there. I put all the computer stuff in my truck. But there it all is, the last of the big stuff. Yay:

The auction house was a big honking warehouse with no discernible air conditioning. I was dripping and it felt like someone was pouring tablespoons of water down the back of my spine. (His site is not updated for the next auction.) He told me to check next week to see pictures of my stuff. Yeah, I don't care. I just needed it out of the house. Getting money for it will just be icing on the cake. When I left the warehouse I was tired and didn't feel like getting on the highway so I decided to take Beach St. down to 121. I passed a park called "Gateway Park" and thought, I guess that's where they sell the gateway drugs. I also saw some big fancy new church that looked like a Disneyland wild west saloon set. That was really weird. I will try to get a picture the next time I am over in that part of the world. Anyway, I was dying for an ice cold beer and stopped in at Logan's Roadhouse. I'm not crazy about the place because A) They play country music and B) Their decor is red and yellow, which is just a bad idea at any time or place. I asked for a Bud Light draft and got the tallest beer I have ever seen:

That's a regular sized Bic lighter, not one of those tiny ones that you can slip through an (I better not type that as the government might have a search engine for that sort of thing) let's just say through the really large sprawling place with the tin birdies. And doesn't that beer look cold and frosty? Well looks can be deceiving. That beer was not cold. I drank half of it and hopped across the mall parking lot to Carraba's. Ahhhh, what a lovely relief in every way. The bar stool was more comfy, the music (classic pop standards from the 40's) was SO much better, and the beer was colder. Not to mention their bread served with olive oil poured over a mash of mixed garlic and herbs. And the decor. The bartender. Okay. I think you get it:

My Sweetie called as I was on my way home to tell me that the school was closed so he didn't have a class (their AC was out in all the buildings, weird, huh?) so he would be coming home. That was a nice surprise. A bad surprise was that the chicken I had taken out of the freezer Tuesday night had still not thawed, but we figured something out:

("Thank You" is right!)
It's so nice to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. I do not have a lot left to do to finally get that house on the market. It will definitely be a celebration and it will be soon. Woot! woot!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What the heck?

So Sunday night I had dinner with my daughter and she told me she and The Boy were discussing marriage. I didn't quite know how to react so I reacted in a business-like manner and told her to figure out what type of wedding she wants and to figure out a budget and start saving for it. It was hard to take it as seriously as I should because she also discussed moving to Alaska if the Republicans win because of the oil boom they promised at their convention. She and The Boy had "done their research" and their company would transfer them there and they would each make $8,000 more a year. Unfortunately I had to burst her balloon by bringing up the fun little fact called "cost-of-living," and while $8,000 is NOT twice what she currently makes, the COL in Alaska is about double that of Texas. Apparently their research did not go that far.
And then there was the THREE wedding thing. They want to have a traditional churchlike ceremony for all family, friends and co-workers, and then a pagan handfasting ceremony for her pagan group and a Gathering ceremony for his "special friends" there. Uhm, okay.
Monday evening The Boy stopped by the house to bring me a case of beer and we sat and talked for a little over an hour about all this. It was sad to watch his face drop as I realized that my daughter had not already discussed the Alaskan cost-of-living thing with him. He was man enough to admit that he had not considered that aspect at all. And I don't know if they expected their parents to pay for their wedding but I told my daughter Sunday night that parents do not pay for the weddings of adults living together. Nobody paid for any of my weddings. But I did say I would do the invitations.
The Boy said his mother had been a wedding planner for 15 years, so I told him she should be able to give him some idea of how much money they need to save. He didn't look like he had even thought of, you know, actually having to save money for this big plan. I imagine they are both looking at this whole thing in a new light now. I hope so.

Monday, September 08, 2008

My Chair

That's my chair. But this post isn't really about my chair, sort of.
I found it interesting that Jeanette did a post about her husband being gone and called it "alone/lonely" time. And then at the same time, XUP did a post about cohabitation. The reason I found it interesting is because My Sweetie is out of town. It actually made me look at these posts with different eyes. I imagine if it were a regular day, my comments may have been different.
Their posts made me think about the positives and negatives. Well, that's my chair and I just figured out that I only sit in my chair when My Sweetie is here. He has the couch, I have the chair. I imagine you're thinking that usually the man has the cozy recliner/rocker chair and the woman has the couch. Well then you'd be the waitress that sets down the beer in front of My Sweetie and the gin and tonic in front of me. Meaning, no, you have it wrong.
But the odd thing is, I never sit in the chair when I'm here by myself (and the beer is for me, thank you very much). I always sit on the couch when it's just me. I don't know why. I never really thought about it until today.
The only other difference (or good thing) about being here alone is that I can watch a movie late at night with some volume. I'm very polite and turn the TV way down low after My Sweetie goes to bed. Ironically, I have yet to watch a late night movie because I spent my first two "alone/lonely" nights on the phone - the irony being that's something I could do if he were here.
And speaking of irony, my friend Carole lent me some great movies and she is one of the people I spent a night talking to on the phone. I still have Monday night (tonight) to watch a loud movie in the middle of the night, and I'll sit on the couch, not in my chair.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Slow Learner

I finally figured out some stuff about sketchfu and made a decent picture!
Okay, this one embedded diferently than the last one and is very small I have no idea why. Oh yeah, I'm a slow learner.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

A Very Long Post About My First Adventure

I grew up in a little place called Belfast. Not the big one in Ireland. This was a small community just outside of Goldsboro, North Carolina. We had an elementary school, a volunteer fire department, two store/gas stations and maybe three churches. The two different houses I lived in were on dirt roads that did not have names. Our addresses were Route 7, Box (some three digit number). We never locked our doors and my parents kept their car keys in the ignitions. Dad worked for a tobacco company in town and there were tobacco farms everywhere. Sometime around 5th grade, some larger tobacco company in Virginia paid Dad's tobacco company for his services and those services were for him to go to the Dominican Republic and train people to do something. (I would like to be more specific, but Dad is dead so I can't ask him.) So he would go for several months in the spring and summer. This was different because in his regular job he used to be gone in the winter months (in Kentucky). In April of 1973, he had been gone for a while and the company offered to send us all over there for a visit. Mom had been once and I believe it was the first time she had flown. I had never flown. We all got passports and then there was big deal about me. My birthday was going to happen over there and the flight rates changed for those particular ages, so Mom was freaked about that. Whatever airlines or travel agents or whatever gave me the kid rate as that was my age as of the booking and beginning of travel. (Man that was a stupid sentence!)

Mom had to do some wheeling and dealing with our schools because we would be gone for almost two weeks and not during a school holiday. Fortunately my brother and I were very good students so it was worked out. I remember my teacher (Oh, Mrs. Howell, how I LOVED you!) said, "The cultural experience will far outweigh those days of basic subjects." Or something like that.


Mom had just flown the one time I think, and hated it. She was very tense. My brother and I were very excited. I don't remember how we got to the Raliegh/Durham airport, but I remember loving being on the plane to Atlanta. Unfortunately, the "changing of the planes in Atlanta" became a longtime family story. Oh, we didn't miss our plane but one of our suitcases exploded in the terminal. I guess back then you had to cart your luggage from plane to plane. Anyway we were running through a terminal and not with a bang, but a whimper, the suitcase came apart. I remember there was about a 12 foot path of my brother's clothes because we were moving so fast. Mom was mortified! If Mom wasn't already frazzled enough, this was bad. She realized she would have to use a charge card and buy a suitcase in the airport. That was a big deal for her. Oh, if you are young and reading this, they were called "charge cards" back then. We ended up making it to our plane with our new suitcase and boarded a plane to Miami. In Miami we got on a very small plane to go to the Dominican Republic and I'm not even sure if anyone else was on it. My brother and I were running around whooping it up and napping across whole rows of seats while Mom sat in her one seat gripping the armrests. If I had to guess, I believe that was April 19th, because it seems like the very next day was my birthday.


Dad was very disappointed on my birthday. We were at El Embajador Hotel in Santo Domingo and Dad had planned a big deal with musicians and a bunch of foreign friendly folks to celebrate my birthday by the pool, but it was pouring rain. Of course, I had no idea about any of this, so when my parents called our room to tell us to come to their room, I was surprised to walk into a crowd mashed into their room singing "Happy Birthday" with all sorts of accents. I was ecstatic and as Dad kept apologizing for it not being what he had planned, I kept telling him how great it was.


The weather cleared on Saturday (the next day) and we did our tour of Santo Domingo. That's me at Alcazar:

Alcazar was the home of Diego, the son of Christopher Columbus and his wife Filipa who was the niece of the king of Spain (Ferdinand). (Was I supposed to capitalize "king"?) This "home" was built in the 1500's and was a museum type place when I visited and it was AWESOME! (Sorry, Jazz, but it really was.) We also visited the oldest cathedral in the western hemisphere (Catedral de Santa Maria la Menor) which is described by Frommer's like this:

The oldest cathedral in the Americas was begun in 1514 and completed in 1540. Fronted with a golden-tinted coral limestone facade, the church combines elements of both Gothic and baroque with some lavish plateresque styles as exemplified by the high altar chiseled out of silver. The treasury has an excellent art collection of ancient woodcarvings, furnishings, funerary monuments, silver, and jewelry.

That's a picture I found on the internet, but it doesn't show the museum quality side rooms or alcoves. I had never been to a Catholic church so I thought they were all like that. You can't begin to imagine my disappointment the first time I went to a Catholic church after that. They also had a fancy golden thing that was supposed to encase part of the remains of Christopher Columbus (although that has been contested). I thought it was all wonderful. I guess we left the next day, Sunday to head to Santiago which is where Dad "lived."


I fell in love with the Hotel Matum. My brother and I had our own room and were told we could order anything we wanted anywhere as it was being paid for by the company. Dad did warn us not to order eggs for breakfast because they were cooked in peanut oil and we would hate them so of course we did and we learned the hard way that "Father knows best." One of my favorite things was the smell of the place. It smelled so clean. Mom was more of a bleach person so I had never smelled this smell before. Several years later I discovered it was Pine Sol and to this day, it's one of my favorite smells. I Googled "Hotel Matum" and it's still there and this picture was there and no kidding, it looks just like our room!

A lot of fascinating things happened in our week or so at the Hotel Matum. My brother came out to my parents as a cigarette smoker. He was 15, almost 16. We were North Carolinians, Dad was in the tobacco business and it was 1973. What were they going to say? Dad just told him he was glad that he was honest about it. Also he was drinking there. Hell, they tried to serve me drinks! We were taller than everybody. My brother kept ordering Cuba Libres. After I realized they didn't have Pepsi there I tried a Coke and it did not taste right so I drank a local red fruit drink that I remember as being called a "refresca" or something like that. I loved those things.
One night as I was sleeping, I woke up to what I thought was my brother kicking my bed. I said, "Stop kicking my bed!" He replied, in a shaken voice, "I'm not kicking your bed." He sounded scared, and that totally woke me up. He said, "I think the Cubans are attacking." I thought a volcano was erupting. Yeah, I know now that there are no volcanos there. I was 12! It stopped and we went back to sleep. In the morning we asked our parents about it and it was an earthquake. Mom was the only one that got it right. Dad thought a cab driver had run into the building.
There were two waiters there that we really liked: Leonardo and Luis. We wanted them to hang out with us and they kept saying they were "on duty" and nervously glancing around. My parents told us later that they were like indentured servants that lived on the premises and worked for food and board and that any extra money was sent to their families. Anyway at the time, we whined and complained that they couldn't hang with us, and suddenly the manager made it their new job to entertain us. Wow, they became so happy and relaxed. Luis was actually a crazy wild contortionist and would go off the high dive all tangled up and almost give me heart attacks. They really loved the freedom to swim in the pool and just hang out. Leonardo gave us little gifts when we left.
One evening we went to the home of someone Dad was working with or playing poker with, I don't remember. here's what I do remember: To me it was like a MANSION. And they had servants. We went in and sat down in a living room like I had never seen. Now I would say it was like a really fancy hotel lobby. They brought me something in a tiny porcelain little cup (sake?) and I hated it (politely) and then they brought me something else. I don't remember much else about that place except that I wanted to go back to the hotel.
One day Dad wanted to show us "the real people." Mom was not so much into the real people. We drove around on small roads and saw all sorts of native villager type people. Mom was freaking out but not as much as when we came across a band of musicians. Dad pulled over on the side of the road and Mom was so tense and mad, like "Don't get out of the car!" I remember the music and how fantastic and special it was. But I didn't know what it was. It wasn't until I was in college and was walking across the campus that I heard it again. My ears perked up and I ran over there and it was a steel drum band! I still love the steel drum.
Dominican Republic has (or had) one day a year that they hate the United States. That is April 28th. I don't know how or why it was arranged for us, but some Dutch people were going into town to see a movie and took my brother and me with them. We were told that it was "Hate America" day and that we should not speak. I remember walking behind them down a sidewalk as they spoke their Dutch garble and my brother and I looking at each other and looking around wondering if we were going to be shot. Worse, the move was Dutch or German with Spanish subtitles and showed an actual live childbirth. I was TWELVE.
One of the best things about the Dominican Republic? We met the most amazing man, Henrik Ravn. He was Dad's best friend there. I guess he was like a cross between Indiana Jones and Brad Pitt. I'm not a Brad Pitt fan, but I would have found him awesome cute when I was 12. Henrik was Danish and spoke 5 or 6 languages and like 12 African dialects. He danced the merengue with both Mom and me. Years later I asked Mom, "How did you not fall in love with this man?" I've always wondered what happened to him. But at least I have his crazy painting.
Part of me wants to go back to the Dominican Republic, and the other part says, "Why mess with a great memory?"
And I guess the really best part of the trip is that it took a little country girl out into the world. My brain was expanded.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Maybe it was the creepy Santa Claus?

If you've been a reader here for a while, you may remember back in April when I was having so much trouble trying to make this ribbon photo board. Well, not that I had trouble making it, but I didn't have enough ribbon on my first attempt and then kept trying to get more ribbon and then had to end up using this sorry pink rick rack:

The reason I am bringing this up, is that some time back I noticed that Lone Grey Squirrel had a neat little gizmo on his blog called "feedjit" and it showed where people were coming from. And by coming from, I thought that meant like cities, states, countries and whatnot and I thought that was pretty interesting (although feedjit actually just shows what city your server is in, not what city you are in). I'd always heard that way more people visit your blog than leave comments, but I thought it was just a rumor. Which is silly because there are 4 or 5 blogs that I read, but never leave comments. I didn't know that the feedjit thing (down on the bottom right) also showed search results, like when someone searches for something and comes to your blog. Well it does show that and no one could be more surprised than I was to discover that the number one search subject that brings folks here is that original ribbon photo board post. I couldn't understand why so many people ended up here from that, so today I googled either "photo ribbon board" or "ribbon photo board" and my post was on the first page! Apparently there is not a lot of info out there about these things, which surprised me because for a while there every HGTV show had someone making one.
I know that is the number one searchie thing, but I'm not sure exactly which is number two, but there are three other posts that bring a lot of traffic through search engines. Number two may be my Gardenia post, and people end up here from searching "google images" and that makes me feel terrible because I lifted that photo from the internet. I wish I had given credit to the source. I suppose I should go put a caption on that pic: "I found this lovely photo on the internet."
Another one, which really makes me scratch my head, is Christmassy Night Out and the part that is weird is that most of the people, like 98% of the people that are looking at that old post are coming from Germany. What does that mean? I also get a lot of hits on my random skin problems, like the skin tag on my eyelid and my contact dermatitis. And my sketchfu picture from last July. I don't know what any of this means, I just find it interesting. And just in case you came here looking for the ribbon photo board: DON'T FORGET TO DO THE OVER/UNDER WHEN CRISS-CROSSING THE RIBBON. Because I did.